Balkinization  

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

CIA Agent Reveals Highly Classified Interrogation Techniques and, Inexplicably, the Sky Does Not Fall

Marty Lederman

John Kiriakou confirmed the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, and the fact that the White House authorized such crimes, even though such information is "highly classified." Kiriakou said that he "knew the rules" of classification but did not seek CIA approval to make his disclosures. There was fury at the CIA this morning because of this breach.

I don't condone disclosures of classified information. But it should be evident that this particular disclosure does no harm to intelligence operations. There is simply no justification at all for the classification of our government's legal views about what techniques are and are not legal, nor for classifying information about what the CIA has done to private persons. That doesn't mean it was proper for Kiriakou to violate his employment obligations. But it does mean that the classification itself was wrong, and that Congress must start being a lot less credulous with respect to the categorical classification of this "program," especially facts about what we have done to these detainees.

The notion that discussing the techniques will tell the enemy what it should prepare for is a transparently flimsy excuse. OK, if there's some technique out there that the CIA is using that no one's ever heard of before, then fine, perhaps that should be classified (although as I explain below, even that does not make sense once you use the techniques, i.e., once you reveal them to the enemy). But none of the techniques in question here is unknown. They all have a very lengthy historical pedigree, and they have all been documented in excruciating detail, nowhere more than in Darius Rejali's new comprehensive tome, Torture & Democracy. The Army Field Manual has long discussed many of the techniques that the U.S. uses. The CIA's own KUBARK Manual is available online. The SERE techniques have now been well-rehearsed in public discussion. If anyone wishes to "prepare" themselves to withstand these techniques, it isn't difficult to figure out what they are.

What is more, this is information that is revealed to the enemy as soon as it is implemented. Thus, it can't possibly be legitimately classified, because those upon whom we have inflicted these techniques know about them and can describe their treatment to anyone they wish. The premise behind the classification, therefore, must be an assumption that none of these detainees will ever be permitted to speak to anyone in the outside world ever again -- that without any process at all, they all have been permanently relegated to a black hole without any human contact. Otherwise, they are of course free to describe the techniques to their hearts' content. Classification simply makes no sense in this context, unless we've already decided that these detainees will never see another human face.

The true reasons for the classification here are two, I think. First, the agency understandably does not want to reveal to the world that it has committed crimes and that the U.S. has systematically breached the Geneva and Torture Conventions. Understandable, but not a legitimate reason for classification. Second, I suspect that even if some techniques are in fact internally conceded to be unlawful, the agency wishes to preserve the illusion that it might use those techniques, thereby establishing an uncertainty that might cause detainees to talk, because they're fearful of what the agency might be willing to do. In other words, it preserves the ability of the agency to tell a detainee the if he doesn't talk, he might be waterboarded, or his children might be killed, even though such techniques are, in fact, impermissible. This, too, is an illegitimate reason for classification, however. It is not acceptable in a democracy to have legal limits that are kept unknown so that persons might be fearful that no such limits exist. (In any event, even on its own terms, this theory would only justify keeping secret those techniques that OLC has determined are unlawful. If OLC has determined that a technique can be used, there's no harm in telling the world, especially if one wishes to strike fear in the heart of al Qaeda.)

In any event, even if I were mistaken about the legitimacy of classifying the OLC memos on legality, or the information about which techniques the CIA has used, WHAT IS THE POSSIBLE JUSTIFICATION FOR HAVING CLOSED DOOR HEARINGS ON THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TAPES? WHAT are the Democrats, thinking, anyway? They should insist on a public accounting of what happened. Allowing Hayden to shut the door to the public is a symptom of just how hopelessly compromised the Intel Committee oversight system is.

Comments:

Here is my take on this. I call it the Torturer's Song: Illegal Conspiring to Torture


The Torturer's Song: Illegal Conspiring to torture

Today a further revelation on the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah has been provided in an ABCNEWS interview with John Kiriakou - one of the first CIA persons to capture Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan back in 2002. He confirms that Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded. That is torture. He confirms that Abu Zubaydah was made to do long time standing and sleep deprived. That is torture. He believes that the waterboarding broke Abu Zubaydah after 35 seconds. Another thing he said is that everything that Abu Zubaydah said checked out afterward and he became a helpful source.

This interview is what I have come to call the Torturer's Song. It is an explanation by a telegenic and sympathetic looking American - usually a white male family man - about the tough job that the CIA has to do. It is replete with what might be called middle-class qualms about what is being done, maybe even a tinge of regret about how they reacted, but the subtext is that it was the right thing to do at that time. One relates to him as he seems to be a regular guy, like someone who might be your neighbor. He has a tinge of James Bond about him. You want to feel "Glad he was working for us." He does not look like a sociopath who would torture another human being.

Of course, we are not let see the torturer who actually did the torture for John Kiriakou did not himself do the torturing. He declined to have the training. He can not be prosecuted for torture. He is not under oath so he can not be prosecuted for obstruction of justice or perjury. His view on these things only have meaning in showing a former CIA operative's willingness to help sell the torturer's song.

Can an American citizen hear an interview with the interrogators who did torture Abu Zubaydah? Can we get those people on 60 minutes or some show and have them explain themselves? Can those persons be brought out of retirement or from wherever they are and have them explain why they accepted to do the training that John Kiriakou declined? Since someone must have authorized John Kiriakou to speak, can we go back to that person and have them authorize the specific torturers of Khalid Sheik Muhammad and Abu Zubaydah to speak to the press? Who do we need to call to have these persons made available to the press to describe what they were doing in the name of all Americans?

The problem I have with the torturer's song is that the persons who are allowed out to speak are the one's who end their point with "the torture worked." How convenient that this interview comes out today just when the bona fides of the entire political class on torture has been called into question by the revelations of early briefings. Like rolling out a product line to have us continue to acquiesce in the torture, his testimony in a booklined room is supposed to contribute to the debate on torture that we are supposed to be having right now.

The torturer's song to me is just a further effort to have us believe that there is something debatable about torture. It is to make us forget the 100 years of U.S. court decisions that said waterboarding was torture or that this technique goes back to the Inquisition. In fact, the essence of the torturer's song is to lull us into thinking it is an acceptable tool in the arsenal of our democracy.

Just like I have no faith in the truth of any information that comes from torturing a person, I have no faith in the truth of anything that torturers and apologists for torture say. The former is speaking to avoid further torture and the latter is speaking to defend the torture they have done. The presence of torture makes them both unreliable to me. Torture is an abomination that is against the law.

John Kiriakou, if he is to be believed, has said that the legal authorities were worked out at the highest levels of government with the President and Justice giving the CIA interrogators the authority to do the torture. In this Wonderland, torture is legalized by the stroke of pen through a Presidential authorization backed with a compliant legal opinion. Of course, no law was changed or treaty amended to legalize the torture. Only persons of power decided to write new words and persons below - noticeably other than John Kiriakou - were willing to go along. That is illegal conspiracy to do torture my fellow Americans and we have confirmation that this crime went up to the President.

Let us now find all the conspirators in this torture and bring them to justice.
 

John Kiriakou confirmed the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, and the fact that the White House authorized such crimes, even though such information is "highly classified." Kiriakou said that he "knew the rules" of classification but did not seek CIA approval to make his disclosures. There was fury at the CIA this morning because of this breach.

Fury? I did not believe that attorneys were this credulous.

Marty, Kiriakou is a true believer, not a whistleblower or a disgruntled employee.

Kiriakou's comments painting the CIA as heroes could have been and indeed might have been written by the CIA public relations section.

Kiriakou is on a publicity tour and is writing a book, all of which need clearance by the CIA.

I will give you three guesses which government agency recruited Kiriakou to go on this publicity tour. HINT: It is the same agency which has been leaking furiously to the press about all the hoops the agency jumped through for its interrogation program, including briefing certain representatives and senators.

Any report which claims that the CIA is furious about Kiriakou's interviews does not pass the snicker test.

...what the CIA has done to private persons.

Private persons?!?

Yup, KSM and Abu Zubaydah are just your average innocent Joes who just happened to be rounded up by the Gestapo, err...CIA.

Zubaydah was captured making a bomb to blow the hell out of kids at a school. KSM in fact murdered thousands on 9/11 and before.

Private persons indeed!

:::sigh:::
 

For once I find something with which to agree with Bart. There's no doubt in my mind that Kiriakou received permission to (or was even asked to) speak openly about interrogation techniques and subjects with ABCNEWS.
 

I agree with Bart as well. But let's be clear here-- this demolishes Bart's arguments, made in other threads, that the torture techniques must be kept secret. Obviously, if this secret had to be kept at all costs, and the agency believed that, they would have exercised their authority under Snepp v. United States to stop the publication of details of the Zubaydah interrogation.
 

Marty,
Thank you for another excellent post. I do not comment often, but feel compelled to offer my .02 on this subject.

Although I had the privilege to take conlaw with Jack Greenberg, I'm a tax lawyer, so my analysis should be suspect. Here goes, FWIW.

Agreed that the CIA "authorized" this disclosure. I know Porter Goss and can say that he's one of the smartest people I have ever known. Smart people inhabit Langley. Unfortunately, the smart ones were subverted by Cheney and the Neo-Con cabal and we know what happened re Iraq's WMD evidence. If you can find anyone at CIA, present or former, who will attest to believing in the Saddam -- 9/11 connection, please let me know. I am greatly disappointed that Porter and others at Langley did not disavow this connection. I will not speculate as to their motivations for keeping quiet.

In any event, I don't think you can fairly blame CIA bumbling for either the pratfalls in our pre-war intelligence or the sad state of our compliance with international obligations vis a vis torture. An affirmative defense is exactly what I would expect from someone, or something, recognizing the futility of denying the underlying crime.

Yes, waterboarding is criminal. I don't see how that can be denied, after successful prosecutions of waterboarders after WW II. Fear is a central (and perhaps most important) component of torture. I might find it scary to be waterboarded in class at Langley, but I know they won't kill me. And just to point out the ridiculous, I'd hardly be scared if in training a badguy threatened to kill my family. Would I be scared if that threat were made by a badguy in my home with my family in the next room? These are the tactics that make me ashamed of my President.

It would not suprise me, or sadden me, if the President and Vice President find themselves answering for their crimes someday.
 

As little Lisa might ask her brother "What's wrong with whistleblowing?" Without the tunesmiths, how open would government be? OOPS! I forgot about the destruction of the CIA torture tapes. Dropping a dime on crime is okay for the petty criminals but not for politicians messing with public funds?
 

WHAT IS THE POSSIBLE JUSTIFICATION FOR HAVING CLOSED DOOR HEARINGS ON THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TAPES? WHAT are the Democrats, thinking, anyway?

They are thinking:
My complicity by complacency in failing to stop this outrage needs to be kept under wraps.

If Bushco is gonna drag me down too by chronicling the dates on which I was briefed (like Negroponte letter on TSP briefings), then I better have closed door hearings first to see exactly how I am gonna be nailed. At least then I can come up with some good excuses to spin my involvement.

"Milicent, can you please check my files again to make sure I didn't write a strongly worded secret letter on these damn tapes?"
 

Prof. Lederman:

Thus, it can't possibly be legitimately classified, because those upon whom we have inflicted these techniques know about them and can describe their treatment to anyone they wish....

Well, there is the Oregon case where the judges ruled that the defendants couldn't even try to reconstruct from memory the documents they'd seen that proved the wiretapping. They just weren't allowed to remember ... in court, at least. And outside of court, freed from the constraints of any oath and the penalty of perjury prosecution, they'll of course make up any fantabulous tale they want to help the Terra-ists and bring down the ol' You Ess of Aye; you can't trust 'em, I tellya, they're the Enemy.

That aside, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it possible to prosecute people for revealing classified information (as long as the requisite "intent" [i.e. knowledge that it's classified, and intent to do so for the purpose of harming the U.S.] is present)? Isn't it sufficient to tell them it's "classified" and warn them, to make them shut up.

Interestingly, I'm just reading LeCarre's "Russia House", where they're 'enlisting' a book-seller, and telling him that he's got to sign an acknowledgement of the Official Secrets Act, despite the fact that he didn't come forth willingly, he developed the information, and he didn't want to hand it over to the spies in the first place? The British OSA is more pernicious than our laws, but I do believe we have something similar that can be used as a crude bludgeon to enforce silence (as long as they're subject to arrest and prosecution in the U.S. .... and for that, consider that some of these folks wer grabbed overseas in the first place).

Cheers,
 

Prof. Lederman:

The notion that discussing the techniques will tell the enemy what it should prepare for is a transparently flimsy excuse....

"... but, for lack of anything better, will be repeated endlessly."

The norms of rational discourse have long since been deemed "quaint" and discarded.

Cheers,
 

It's interesting that Baghdad Bart defends the torture of prisoners by claiming that it works. It didn't work when the Vietnamese tortured US pilots. When the pilots couldn't take any more they just told their torturers some useless information so the torture would stop. You'd have to be pretty stupid to think the people we're torturing aren't doing the same thing.
 

Bart,

Do you have a credible source that proves Zubaydah had important information or was going to blow up a school with kids?

"Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes."

Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes.


Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

Private persons indeed!

Maher Arar. Khalid el-Masri. And how many others? "Bart" not only doesn't ask; doesn't want to know ... he must affirmatively deny -- to himself and to anyone else he hopes is listening -- that such is happening.

Cheers,
 

dilan said...

I agree with Bart as well. But let's be clear here-- this demolishes Bart's arguments, made in other threads, that the torture techniques must be kept secret.

All Kiriakou's statements to date have already been leaked. It has been known for months that Zubaydah and KSM were waterboarded. CIA is using Kiriakou to provide the context and the results to the public.

The President and his designees have to make decisions all the time as to whether to confirm leaked classified materials in order to explain them.

For example, when the NYT disclosed the TSP to al Qeada and the public, the WH decided that they had to confirm the existence of the program and provide context to put the lie to claims that the NSA is spying in innocent Americans.

Kiriakou's confirmation of and provision of context for the Zubaydah interrogation falls under the same category.
 

drational said...

WHAT IS THE POSSIBLE JUSTIFICATION FOR HAVING CLOSED DOOR HEARINGS ON THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TAPES? WHAT are the Democrats, thinking, anyway?

They are thinking:
My complicity by complacency in failing to stop this outrage needs to be kept under wraps.


This is pretty obvious.

There is not a chance in hell of a criminal investigation where all the parties who would conduct such an investigation approved the CIA coercive interrogation.

Nor do the GOP elected officials have to worry about their voters. When the first Fox News GOP debate brought up this question, you may recall which side of the issue the crowd supported.

However, the folks who do object to this program primarily vote Dem. Consequently, Dems like Rockefeller, who questioned whether the CIA coercive techniques were tough enough, are doing their best to avoid answering to their voters by holding closed hearings.

I really do not know why, though. You Dems will keep voting for these senators and reps no matter what they do under the anyone but a Republican reasoning.
 

russ said...

Bart, Do you have a credible source that proves Zubaydah had important information or was going to blow up a school with kids?

Kiriakou. The man is an eyewitness with personal knowledge who is all but daring Congress to call him up and put him under oath.

"Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

Mental illness does not preclude Zubaydah from either being an terrorist or from disclosing information. Indeed, I do not understand how sane people can perpetrate this terrorist mass murder.

Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes."

In stark contrast to Kiriakou, Suskind relies upon unidentified sources with unknown axes to grind for these claims. Let these witnesses come out and contradict Kiriakou.
 

Baghdad, what evidence do you have that the people we are torturing aren't just giving up useless info to end the torture?
 

bartbuster said...

Baghdad, what evidence do you have that the people we are torturing aren't just giving up useless info to end the torture?

Kiriakou and many other CIA sources allege that Zubaydah proivded the information which allowed CIA and the Pakistanis to capture Ramzi bin al Shibh and then KSM. The evidence for this claim is that both Ramzi bin al Shibh and then KSM were in fact captured soon after Zubaydah. Some anonymous "CIA sources" have claimed that CIA had the intelligence to capture KSM prior to capturing Zubaydah. If this is true, why didn't CIA capture the far more important KSM prior to capturing the "useless" Zubaydah?

Kiriakou and many other CIA sources allege that Zubaydah proivded the information which allowed CIA and FBI to stop multiple al Qaeda attacks. The evidence for this claim is that, in contrast to their regular attacks on US interests around the world between 1993 and 9/11, al Qaeda has not been able to launch a significant attack on US interests outside of the Iraq and Afghan/Pakistan war zones for the past six years. There is no way this is an accident.
 

Kiriakou and many other CIA sources allege that Zubaydah proivded the information which allowed CIA and the Pakistanis to capture Ramzi bin al Shibh and then KSM. The evidence for this claim is that both Ramzi bin al Shibh and then KSM were in fact captured soon after Zubaydah.

Yes, I'm sure Al Qaeda is too stupid to change locations after a member is captured.

The evidence for this claim is that, in contrast to their regular attacks on US interests around the world between 1993 and 9/11, al Qaeda has not been able to launch a significant attack on US interests outside of the Iraq and Afghan/Pakistan war zones for the past six years. There is no way this is an accident.

This is simply laughable. Prior to 9/11 Al Qaeda hadn't attacked the US in eight years (8>6), and we weren't torturing anyone.

And since 9/11, Al Qaeda hasn't had any need to go around the world to attack US interests. You morons sent the targets to them.

Baghdad, I asked for evidence, not bullshit.
 

I'm with Benjamin Davis: the sources available to me say that Kiriakou was not an actual witness to the interrogation of Zubaydah, which, supposedly, was carried out by unnamed CIA contractors, nor was he an actual witness to the usefulness of that information.

This makes his testimony hearsay, as is that of Suskind. We are free to choose to believe that a dedicated journalist might have more care in investigation, or we can believe in the objectivity and truthfulness of Kiriakou -- but we should not accept as factual either story.

Until we hear conclusively from someone who was present, and who was also a witness to the subsequent events, we can only accept what all the evidence we have asserts incontrovertibly: Zubaydah was tortured by the CIA.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

c2h50h said...

I'm with Benjamin Davis: the sources available to me say that Kiriakou was not an actual witness to the interrogation of Zubaydah, which, supposedly, was carried out by unnamed CIA contractors, nor was he an actual witness to the usefulness of that information.

What sources? Please do not refer to anonymous CIA sources. Has anyone actually come out in the open and contradicted Kiriakou?
 

bartbuster said...

BD: Kiriakou and many other CIA sources allege that Zubaydah proivded the information which allowed CIA and the Pakistanis to capture Ramzi bin al Shibh and then KSM. The evidence for this claim is that both Ramzi bin al Shibh and then KSM were in fact captured soon after Zubaydah.

Yes, I'm sure Al Qaeda is too stupid to change locations after a member is captured.


You are bringing up a number of good points today.

Al Qaeda would indeed change locations as soon as it discovered a member with information was captured. This fact of life is precisely why you do not immediately disclose the capture to the Red Cross, you move the capture to a secret and secure location, and you have to break the capture in a very short period of time. If standard interrogation does not work, you move to coercive interrogation until you get the capture to disclose the locations of the other enemy cells.

The rapid roll up of much of al Qaeda in Pakistan after the CIA broke Zubaydah and then KSM with waterboarding is a prefect example of how this is done.

The FBI and CIA interrogated Zubaydah without success when he was first captured. If we had continued that course of action and declined to employ coercive interrogation, many of you may have felt better about your country, but almost certainly KSM would have moved by the time Zubaydah was tricked or wore down.

I accept that the use of waterboarding is disturbing. However, when I weigh inducing 35 second of panic against the intelligence gained and the lives saved, the moral scale is not even close.

The only way you can tip the moral scale against waterboarding Zubaydah and KSM is if you remain willfully ignorant of the the intelligence gained and the lives saved.

I will take the moral complaints of a critic of waterboarding seriously when they openly admit the opportunity cost in intelligence and lives of their position.

To date, I think one poster here or over at the Volock Conspiracy has admitted the trade off and openly stated that he was willing to lose lives to ban waterboarding. While I disagree, at least he was honest.
 

The rapid roll up of much of al Qaeda in Pakistan after the CIA broke Zubaydah and then KSM with waterboarding is a prefect example of how this is done.

The fact of which you have STILL provided no evidence.

To date, I think one poster here or over at the Volock Conspiracy has admitted the trade off and openly stated that he was willing to lose lives to ban waterboarding. While I disagree, at least he was honest.

Make it 2. I don't think torture works, and it makes us (and by us, I mean me. I don't think you're any better than them even if you refrain from torture) no better than them.
 

What sources? Please do not refer to anonymous CIA sources. Has anyone actually come out in the open and contradicted Kiriakou?

# posted by Bart DePalma : 11:54 AM


As many have come out in the open to contradict him as have come out in the open to confirm his claims.
 

This is simply laughable. Prior to 9/11 Al Qaeda hadn't attacked the US in eight years (8>6), and we weren't torturing anyone.

Bart said U.S. *interests*; our African embassies, and the U.S.S. Cole, would seem to qualify.

The only thing lamer than Bart is piling onto Bart, which only amplifies the Bart noise.

If Blogger allowed blocking certain IP addresses, this would be a happier blog.
 

To answer Bart's direct question, I saw an interview in which, to my recollection, he said he did not witness the interrogation of Zubaydah.

I have also read that in the WaPo.

Unless somebody can come up with a definitive statement that Kiriakou (or someone else) was present and can attest to the claims, they will remain in doubt.
 

Bart said U.S. *interests*; our African embassies, and the U.S.S. Cole, would seem to qualify.

I know what he said, and what he said was idiotic, so I ignored it.
 

Professors:

One of you might want to start a thread with a post on yesterday's FISC decision denying ACLU's request for FISC decisions concerning the TSP.

The Court's reasoning is also a damning indictment of the NYT for disclosing the TSP to the enemy.
 

The Court's reasoning is also a damning indictment of the NYT for disclosing the TSP to the enemy.

Let's take a look at what the court had to say...

"The ACLU is correct in asserting that certain benefits could be expected from public access," Bates wrote. "There might be greater understanding of the FISC's decision-making. Enhanced public scrutiny could provide an additional safeguard against mistakes, overreaching or abuse. And the public could participate in a better-informed manner in debates over legislative proposals relating to FISA."

Yes, that is just brutal.
 

bb:

I will respect the professors' wishes to stay on subject and will not address this subject further here. This was just a suggestion for another thread

I will probably address this later on my blog. You are welcome to comment there so long as you do not engage in your usual name calling and swearing.

Please do not comment on my blog policy here. Take it there.
 

The arguments in favor of waterboarding look to be made up of the ends justifying the means. Under such a moral calculus, what about the risk of lives that could be lost because someone lied to end the torture? The chief problem with such an approach is that one's morals are determined by math rather than any sense or notion of what is right or wrong.

Perhaps as interesting is that in order to determine whether or not torture is right or acceptable under such a moral functionality, one would need an accurate number of lives saved by torture. Also problematic with using the ends to justify the means is the issue of threshold. If torture saved one life, is it okay? What if it later costs a life, is it still right?
 

Please do not comment on my blog policy here. Take it there.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 1:54 PM


You won't post my comments over there, and you're lying about what I tried to post, so you can pretty much go fuck yourself if you think I'm going to listen to any suggestions you have to make about my posts here.
 

This was just a suggestion for another thread

From now on when you are "just" suggesting another thread, you might want to leave out the usual rightwingnut commentary if you're sincerely trying to stay on topic.
 

bitswapper said...

The arguments in favor of waterboarding look to be made up of the ends justifying the means. Under such a moral calculus, what about the risk of lives that could be lost because someone lied to end the torture?

This is an interesting thought. Care to expand on it?

The CIA is after actionable intelligence, to wit, the location of the enemy and his weapons and supplies. Actionable intelligence can be confirmed fairly quickly by simply looking where the subject claimed the enemy was located. The subject knows this, thus the avoidance tactic would be very short lived and the subject must imagine that worse treatment is to come if he is revealed to be lying. Consequently, the incentive to lie is reduced.

In Special Ops prior to a mission, the soldier is given a relatively simple and difficult to check cover story. The soldier is supposed to keep to this story for a reasonable period of time so that the uncaptured units have time to redeploy. The soldier is instructed not to make up lies unless the cover story has completely broken down because any half way competent interrogator will find out and redouble the efforts to break the soldier. It is assumed that all soldiers will break under torture after some period of time. The key is to delay that event for as long as possible by having the enemy waste time checking the cover story. I would suggest the book Bravo Two Zero written by an SAS trooper captured and truly tortured by the Iraqis during the Persian Gulf War. This is a perfect case study of what I am discussing.

In the case of al Qaeda, we usually capture them unawares and unprepared with a cover story. Because lying does not get you too far, we can generally get to the truth pretty quickly with coercive interrogation.

In any case, given that coercive interrogation is only used after standard interrogation has failed, I am unsure how the temporary failure of coercive interrogation would endanger any more lives than continuing to get no response from the subject under standard interrogation.

Perhaps as interesting is that in order to determine whether or not torture is right or acceptable under such a moral functionality, one would need an accurate number of lives saved by torture.

Why? Under my moral calculus, saving a single life outweighs imposing 35 seconds of panic. How about under your moral calculus?
 

Why? Under my moral calculus, saving a single life outweighs imposing 35 seconds of panic. How about under your moral calculus?

# posted by Bart DePalma : 2:44 PM


You tried to justify cases of US Marines killing unarmed prisoners, while acting outraged when "enemy" insurgents do the same, so one can reasonably assume you really don't have any morals.
 

In Special Ops prior to a mission, the soldier is given a relatively simple and difficult to check cover story. The soldier is supposed to keep to this story for a reasonable period of time so that the uncaptured units have time to redeploy. The soldier is instructed not to make up lies unless the cover story has completely broken down because any half way competent interrogator will find out and redouble the efforts to break the soldier. It is assumed that all soldiers will break under torture after some period of time. The key is to delay that event for as long as possible by having the enemy waste time checking the cover story. I would suggest the book Bravo Two Zero written by an SAS trooper captured and truly tortured by the Iraqis during the Persian Gulf War. This is a perfect case study of what I am discussing.

In the case of al Qaeda, we usually capture them unawares and unprepared with a cover story. Because lying does not get you too far, we can generally get to the truth pretty quickly with coercive interrogation.


By the way, this is all complete gibberish. The spec ops "cover story" is no different from the Al Qaeda cover story. They will say "I don't know" for as long as possible, then they will try to provide useless info to end the torture.
 

Bart:
Why? Under my moral calculus, saving a single life outweighs imposing 35 seconds of panic. How about under your moral calculus?


I don't think I'd torture or drown someone on the gamble it might save a life. Would you put an american soldier through a little discomfort to save an Iraqi life?

Really, you seem to be playing semantic games rather than a real discussion.
 

bitswapper said...

Bart: Why? Under my moral calculus, saving a single life outweighs imposing 35 seconds of panic. How about under your moral calculus?

I don't think I'd torture or drown someone on the gamble it might save a life.


What gamble? al Qaeda's entire purpose is the commission of mass murder. It is a near certainty that their captured leadership will have actionable intelligence on uncaptured cells who are preparing to commit mass murder.

This being the case, would you have qualms about inflicting 35 seconds of panic on a captured al Qaeda leader to save even one life?

This question is not mere semantics. This is a real life trade off.

Would you put an american soldier through a little discomfort to save an Iraqi life?

Playing the goose and gander game with me does not work because I apply the same rules to everyone and do not play favorites.

If the United States Army was waging a terror campaign targeting and murdering Iraqi civilians in markets, their places of worship, schools and cemeteries, I would not blame the Iraqis if they waterboarded captured Army soldiers to gain intelligence and then strung them up from the nearest street light pole.

What is fair for the goose is always fair for the gander.
 

Bart:
This question is not mere semantics. This is a real life trade off.


It appears to be descending to a semantic discussion because you insist labeling waterboarding 'discomfort' when the people who actually do it call it torture.

Playing the goose and gander game with me does not work because I apply the same rules to everyone and do not play favorites.

Yes you do. People who disagree with you get labeled criminals or worse. People who agree with you are just 'correct'.
 

bitswapper said...

Bart: This question is not mere semantics. This is a real life trade off.

It appears to be descending to a semantic discussion because you insist labeling waterboarding 'discomfort' when the people who actually do it call it torture.


Actually, I have been calling the waterboarding of Zubaydah 35 seconds of panic. I believe that this is a very accurate description of what waterboarding produces and does not fit the statutory definition of torture, which which I agree. However, let's use your terms and rewrite the question:

Under my moral calculus, saving a single life outweighs imposing 35 seconds of torture. How about under your moral calculus?

People who disagree with you get labeled criminals or worse. People who agree with you are just 'correct'.

When have I called those who oppose waterboarding "criminals or worse?" My effort here is simply to get opponents of waterboarding to acknowledge the real life trade off of their position and then confirm that they are willing to accept that tradeoff.

I acknowledge that there is a tradeoff to my position. The infliction of any kind of harm on another human being is morally problematic to me. Going to war and killing the enemy was morally problematic to me. Waterboarding terrorists is morally problematic to me. However, I am simply unwilling to allow mass murder when I can prevent it by killing or waterboarding a terrorist.

Are you willing to similarly address the tradeoffs of your position?
 

Playing the goose and gander game with me does not work because I apply the same rules to everyone and do not play favorites.

You lying scumbag. Right on this blog you have tried to justify the killing of unarmed prisoners by US Marines, then, without the slightest bit of irony, you howled in indignation when you found photographs of unarmed prisoners killed by insurgents in Iraq.
 

Bart:
When have I called those who oppose waterboarding "criminals or worse?"


Actually, most recently I was thinking of how the SCOTUS are outlaws when they disagree with you and how those who believe differently from you are adherent to myths, but not you - but that's too far off, really.

Are you willing to similarly address the tradeoffs of your position?

It does put one at a disadvantage to adhere to a moral code. It should not be confused with weakness.
 

bitswapper said...

Bart: When have I called those who oppose waterboarding "criminals or worse?"

Actually, most recently I was thinking of how the SCOTUS are outlaws when they disagree with you.


When a court does not follow the Constitution and creates its own law, can you think of a better term than outlaw with which to describe such a court?

In the Boumediene case I believe I was discussing, the only way the Court can hold that foreign enemy combatants have any constitutional rights is to reverse its own precedent and ignore the habeas common law which was incorporated into the Constitution to make up the right out of whole cloth.

I would submit that outlaw is a perfectly accurate description of such a court rather than a pejorative. It will be interesting to see if the scathing Scalia dissent which would follow such a holding would use the same term. In any case, Scalia will be making the same critique.

Are you willing to similarly address the tradeoffs of your position?

It does put one at a disadvantage to adhere to a moral code


:::smile:::

I will take that as a no.
 

Bart:
When a court does not follow the Constitution and creates its own law, can you think of a better term than outlaw with which to describe such a court?


But you'll bend over (backwards) to avoid calling "W" an outlaw by the same measure. One standard for you, another for others.


:::smile:::

I will take that as a no.


I take that to mean, once again, that you apply one standard for yourself, another more stringent one for those not like you. Done right, it makes it easy to get an apparent upper hand in a discussion, but demonstrates lack of character due to its capriciousness and what appears to be a greater incentive to both distort and deceive.

You also left out the part where I did point out it has its disadvantages. Another example of character shortcomings.

For those you perceive as having ideological differences, fair and equal treatment isn't even as option, as seen here.

As such, its hard to believe you when you say you don't play favorites. Semantic distortions and double standards comprise the chief substance of your responses, although not all of them to be sure.

And, in case you didn't know, moral strength is defined by the resolve to adhere to such. Its does have its disadvantages, but in interpret those disadvantages as weakness is to belittle the value of morality itself.

One has to admit that the ability to depart from those standards has advantage as well. However, if one does so openly admitting to it, that's one thing. If one searches vehemently for excuses, that's another.
 

bartbuster:

From now on when you are "just" suggesting another thread, you might want to leave out the usual rightwingnut commentary if you're sincerely trying to stay on topic.

He has a friggin' blog. Unless he's a complete moron, he can start any threads he thinks important right there. And anyone that thinks his thoughts are important will read them.

Both Atrios and Glenn Greenwald have very good replies to those that "suggest[] threads", and I suspect it's common in the Blogosphere.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" can sing two notes at once:

In any case, given that coercive interrogation is only used after standard interrogation has failed, ...

But standard interrogation takes time. "Bart", elsewhere, complains that they "needed" to use torture because the standard interrogation was taking too long.

(all this assuming that torture does work, which is an arguable proposition, to say the least [<*cough*... al-Libia*cough*>])

Cheers,
 

Arne wrote:
(all this assuming that torture does work, which is an arguable proposition, to say the least [<*cough*... al-Libia*cough*>])


Bart leaves the info gained from torturing al-Libia conveniently out. One wonders how many Iraqi deaths torture resulted from that 'discomfort'.
 

I'm a newcomer here, so maybe some oldtimer could tell me whether DePalma ever gave an example of what constitutes 2340A torture to him, that is for example what specific actions of Syrian interrogators would qualify them for legal sanctions as envisioned by that paragraph. Clearly waterboarding as practiced by the CIA isn't. Perhaps other flavors of waterboarding are and if so which?

Presumably nail pulling is. What about beating so bad that the subject dies? His position on the latter would be particularly illuminating because that's what CIA is/was doing (Seymour Hersh public allegation).

How about the rack? Or genital electric shocks, or rectal penetration with sticks (a favorite technique of some East Cost police departments)? In, out?
 

-wg-

Baghdad Bart's views are pretty easy to sum up. If the administration currently in power is doing it, it's ok with him.
 

Bart:

I am sure this is just an oversight, but you have referenced Kiriakou as the man who "broke" Zubaydah. In his CNN interview, he stated that he was only involved with the capture and not the subsequent interrogation. But he was informed second hand of the waterboarding. He has no first hand knowledge of the interrogation.

Anderson:

Bart may have said there were no attacks on US interests, but that would be incorrect. The Green Zone and areas in Afghanistan would qualify as attacks on US interests (and not necessarily military assets). One could also point to the attacks against US allies in Bali, Spain, London, and now the UN (although "ally" is not the appropriate term for the UN) and make the claim that it "can't be an accident" that those attacks were made after the invasion of Iraq. To be sure, I don't put your views in the same vein as Bart's, far from it. Just merely pointing out that Bart's statements re: attacks against US interests is misleading at best. And even then, I think Bartbuster raises a salient point in that time between attacks means little, as these plans take years to develop, implement, and carry out. There is absolutely no evidence that torture or any other administration policies are effectively deterring terrorist attacks.
 

Bart may have said there were no attacks on US interests, but that would be incorrect. The Green Zone and areas in Afghanistan would qualify as attacks on US interests

Baghdad Bart is always careful to qualify the "no attacks" lie with the words "outside of Iraq and Afghanistan", which, of course, make the claim completely meaningless.
 

Bartbuster:

Baghdad Bart is always careful to qualify the "no attacks" lie with the words "outside of Iraq and Afghanistan", ...

"... on alternate Tuesdays in months with no 'R' in them when there's a full moon and a low tide at 13:01PM."

But, strangely enough, when it suits his purposes, every "enemy" (or corpse, as the case may be) in Iraq is an "al Qaeda ringleader".

We're not talking "situational ethics" here, we're talking "situational facts"; like those new paint jobs for cars, they look different from every angle you look at them.

Cheers,
 

Post a Comment

Home