Balkinization  

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

News Flash: Taliban Waterboards Captured U.S. Soldiers--Claims "Not Torture"

Brian Tamanaha

According to reports out of Kabul, the Taliban announced that they have waterboarded three U.S. soldiers taken prisoner. The Taliban commander asserted that waterboarding is not torture and does not violate the Geneva Convention or U.S. law. He assured everyone that a medical officer monitored all waterboarding sessions to insure that no permanent damage was done to the soldiers. In addition, he said they were careful to follow the directions on waterboarding in a SERE training manual they found posted on the internet.

In support of his assertion that waterboarding is not torture, the Taliban commander cited legal analysis produced by the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice. He pointed out that the authors of this legal analysis are a respected federal judge on the second highest court in America and a professor at a top American law school. The Taliban commander also referred to the careful legal analysis of a Distinguished Professor of Law who concluded that waterboarding is not torture because U.S. trainers did it to their own troops "hundreds and hundreds of times."




Comments:

Lovely. Thanks.

I remember when we were part of the civilized world. Hell, we were even regarded as a leader. Maybe some day we can rejoin it.
 

BTW, a point made elsewhere (sorry, can't find source) that echoes yours: when Dick argues "torture was acceptable because it was effective" it turns out this argument is equally reasonable to justify terrorist attacks. They're effective. The symmetry may make Dick uncomfortable, but it won't go away, any more than the symmetry you note in your parody. Dick can hardly object to 9/11. Bin Laden just decided it was time to take the gloves off.
 

The people we waterboarded (as far as we know at this point) were Arabs and members of al-Qaida-- not the Taliban. We may have never even considered waterboarding members of the Taliban.

If the Taliban ever captures a U.S. soldier alive, I'd be surprised if they resorted to such tactics. I think they'd use such a captive soldier as a bargaining chip in their effort to get us to leave their country.

I'd also be surprised to hear that the Taliban was familiarizing themselves with western legal opinions. That would actually be a very welcome development.

Now, if AQ (the people we tortured) ever captured a U.S. soldier alive... forget about it. I won't waste anyone's time listing the names of Westerners who were beheaded by these people. They weren't taking the time to find legal opinions to back them up before they did so, either. I'll take waterboarding over beheading on any day of the year.
 

John,

You might well be right (although I suspect that some members of the Taliban are well aware of the controversy in the U.S. over the torture memos)--but I'm afraid you missed my point. That's my fault for being too obscure.

Brian
 

John Martin:

The people we waterboarded (as far as we know at this point) were Arabs and members of al-Qaida-- not the Taliban. We may have never even considered waterboarding members of the Taliban.

So?... And?... If it's legal, shouldn't matter who does it, or for what reason, and certainly you're not now accusing them of a tu quoque?

Cheers,
 

I understood the post. It's just funny to think of the Taliban: 1. deciding to torture a U.S. soldier, when that would be a terrible idea for them, and then 2. turning to the OLC memos for guidance.
 

John Martin:

Perhaps. But what about Iran?

Cheers,
 

John,

When we left the civilized world, we removed a clear reason not to torture from all other peoples.

Civilization has its benefits.
 

Now we're talking! I could see this scenario with Iran, with North Korea, and even with AQ.

If the Taliban went through all the trouble outlined in BT's post, I'd actually think there was some hope for them.

Just in case there's any confusion here-- I don't think the U.S. should do anything that even hints of torture.
 

If the Taliban went through all the trouble outlined in BT's post, I'd actually think there was some hope for them.Really? Just hypotheticals here, but if anyone went through that same process, I'd think they were rationalizing a predetermined policy; coming up with an answer the Supreme Leader was looking for, regardless of the facts and law; selling indulgences to their client; not answering the question "is it legal".
 

You neglected to mention the defining difference. When they do it, it’s torture, because they are evil and because they hate us for our freedom.

When we do it, it’s not torture, because we are good and are only doing it to preserve our basic goodness and freedom.
 

a bit peeved are we prof..??

lol .. i'm disgusted with the very idea there's debate on this issue ..
 

Perhaps the Taliban may have been one of the many downloading William Ranney Levi's "Interrogation's Law," a student (second year) note in a recent Yale Law Journal available via SSRN. (SSRN reported at its Blog that this note was a top-five SSRN download last week.) Levi in the author's note drops some significant names presumably in support: Jack Goldsmith, Owen Fiss, Harold Koh, Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, Jeremy Licht, Martin Lederman, David Levi (his dad?) and Benjamin Wittes. Query whether they wholeheartedly agree with this student note? Perhaps the Taliban can rely upon Levi's revelations that the U.S. has been doing this at least since WW II so it must be legal. Isn't that Levi's bottom line? Nothing new about what the Bush/Cheney administration did, no bigee.
 

Here are a few things I have learned from reading the following transcript:

1. If we had waterboarded a few of those al Queda guys before 9/11, The
World Trade Center would still be there.
2. We have only waterboarded evil men. If they are not evil, we do not
waterboard them. It is not torture if we only waterboard evil men. It is
only torture if we waterboard men who are not evil and we have only water-
boarded three men, so therefore there are only three evil men on the planet.
3. We have been in conflict with al Queda for eight years and we have not been
able to reduce their numbers, even though we have foiled various unknown
plots through the use of an alternate set of interrogation procedures that
most everone agrees is not torture.
4. It seems that we are going to be in a state of war for the forseeable future.
And we do not really know who the enemy is, but we think he is called
Mujahadeen.
5. The Bush administration can take credit for the fact that there have been no
major attacks on the homeland since 9/11 because of their interrogation
procedures, but, for some unknown reason the administration can not be
blamed for the events of 9/11 itself. The Clinton administration must be
blamed for that.
6. It has been proven from what Cheney has said here that these procedures
do produce intelligence, so that means they work and if they work, that means
that it is legal and moral to use them. If they did not work, their use would be
illegal and immoral.
7. It seems that the Vice President took a different oath than most others took.

Here is the oath he said he took, followed by the oath copied from the text of
the constitution:

Now, if you’d look at it from the perspective of a senior government official, somebody like
myself, who stood up and took the oath of office on January 20th of ‘01 and raised their right
hand and said we’re going to protect and defend the United States against all enemies foreign
and domestic, this was exactly, exactly what was needed to do it.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of
President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve,
protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

8. We have the option of putting American lives at risk or using interrogation
procedures similar to those used by the Gestapo in WWII, which will put no
American lives at risk.
9. There was nothing devious or deceitful or dishonest or illegal about what was done.
We just did it with Presidential Findings which were not revealed to the public.
10. We should not stop the air attacks in Afghanistan. If we kill a few babies in the
process of dropping 500 pound bombs on the al Queda guys, bad luck. Besides,
all those babies said to be killed by our bombs were actually killed by Taliban
grenades, just to make it look bad on America.
11. We can not move the terrorists in Guantanamo to prisons in the States. That would
put American citizens at risk from these hardened, fanatical radicals. But leaving
them in Cuba poses no risk to citizens of Cuba. And who cares about the Castro
loving citizens of Cuba, anyway?
 

Wouldn’t this parody make more sense if it were directed at our practice of bombing civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan? In fact, I believe that the Taliban and AQ actually do use those tactics to justify their own actions and to argue that there is no moral/legal distinction between what they do (eg 9/11) and what we do (see today’s report that 95 children were killed by US airstrike in Afghanistan).

In contrast, it seems rather unlikely that the Taliban would use the practice of waterboarding as a justification for how it would treat captured US soldiers. The Taliban would probably proceed along one of three paths: (1) hold the soldiers as bargaining chips or for propaganda purposes (in which case the Taliban might boast that it was treating them better than the US treats detainees); (2) torture the soldiers for revenge (in which case the treatment would be far worse than waterboarding) or (3) summary execution. AQ would most likely perform (2) followed by (3).

As I have pointed out before, it does not appear that waterboarding is something that excites a lot of anger in the Muslim world. (Humiliating treatment of detainees, particularly sexual or religious humiliation, does apparently enrage them). Shockingly, Muslim fundamentalists seem to operate on a different value system from secular western liberals. Yet western liberals persist in a falsified portrayal of Muslim reactions to justify their own preferences.

If Professor Tamanaha were to direct his satirical talents at our bombing campaigns in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he would be much closer to the mark. When we kill Muslim civilians, the Muslim world does not accept our explanation that this is unavoidable collateral damage. Many, perhaps most, Muslims do not see a moral and legal distinction between this and terrorism. Whether they are right or not, this is their point of view.

For whatever reason, western (or at least American) liberals do not seem to be too concerned about civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while they view waterboarding as the worst thing that has ever happened (I exaggerate slightly). Fine, but stop pretending that this is the point of view of the Muslim world.
 

brian:

For heavens sake!

Has it occurred to you that this nonsense is a Taliban propaganda lie aimed at opponents of waterboarding such as yourself and our current Administration with the objective of embarrassing your country and demoralizing our troops?

Do you have an actual link to this propaganda? If not, what is your source?

Is there any evidence that the Taliban hold three US Army prisoners, nevertheless waterboarded them?

Seriously, why are you allowing yourself to be used as a propaganda tool by a wartime enemy by reposting this nonsense without checking the facts?

I would suggest that you take down this post until you can verify the facts.
 

BTW, as a matter of law, if this Taliban propaganda was true, the Taliban would not be committing torture if they used CIA techniques on our POWs. However, they would violate the GC Common Article III, Art. 17 prohibition of using coercion against privileged POWs.
 

You've been had, Bart. And if this hypothetical "embarrasses our country," consider what that says about where our country is today.
 

With this:

" BTW, as a matter of law, if this Taliban propaganda was true, the Taliban would not be committing torture if they used CIA techniques on our POWs. However, they would violate the GC Common Article III, Art. 17 prohibition of using coercion against privileged POWs."

is little Lisa's bro suggesting that the Taliban is bound by the GC?
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Matthew Tievsky said...

You've been had, Bart. And if this hypothetical "embarrasses our country," consider what that says about where our country is today.

No, the intent of this Taliban propaganda says volumes of how Mr. Obama is viewed by the enemy. In his ongoing apology tour, Mr. Obama has repeatedly told the enemy that this successful interrogation has lowered the standing of the United States in world opinion. Thus, it is reasonable for the Taliban to take Mr. Obama at his word and calculate that this propaganda would further lower the standing of the United States.

Indeed, it would not surprise me if Team Obama followed Brian's lead and actually took this Taliban propaganda seriously, achieving the Taliban's goals.

In reality, governments and intelligence agencies around the world actively cooperate with the CIA to capture and interrogate enemy prisoners, which indicates that the United States' standing in the world community is hardly diminished by the reports of our successful interrogation of KSM & Co.
 

Farris, thanks for the summary! Edifying and entertaining.
 

Bart,

Some
Arguments
That
Invoke
Reason
Effectively

are delivered in an indirect fashion through the emotions.

You have completely misread my post (although your violent reaction suggests that it stuck a chord).

You have relentlessly pushed the argument that waterboarding is not "torture." Now perhaps you can see the implications of your argument.

Many military official and military lawyers opposed the use of these interrogation techniques (including fighting the OLC at the time), not only because they are illegal and wrong, but also out of concern that these very techniques and arguments will be used against our own soldiers. (You should take a look at the Frontline special where this point is repeated by several folks in uniform.)

Perhaps this post will help you and others take this objection more seriously.

Finally, if our soldiers are ever waterboarded, we will not for a moment entertain arguments about whether waterboarding is "torture." I doubt that you or anyone else (including the Distinguished Professor I link to in the post) will be lining up to make this argument on their behalf.

Brian
 

Brian: In addition to the Distinguished Professor you link to, the Taliban can also rely upon that prominent legal legend little Lisa's bro with his endorsement:

"BTW, as a matter of law, if this Taliban propaganda was true, the Taliban would not be committing torture if they used CIA techniques on our POWs."

I wonder if little Lisa's bro's prayers at night include: "God bless the CIA." Of course, little Lisa's bro is as well versed in Taliban law as he is with U.S. and international law.
 

Wouldn’t this parody make more sense if it were directed at our practice of bombing civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Gotta love the attempted distraction. "Look! Over there! See that?!"

Those on the Right argue as if the American public consisted of rubes at a carnival -- distract them and they won't notice which shell hides the coin.
 

I have to admit, for a second I was about to whip open a second window and frantically Google for these "reports" coming out of Kabul.

Nonetheless, I'd say this is a fairly useful reminder of the fact that there is presently no argument for torture being flouted by torture apologists that could not just as easily be utilized by the torture apologists among our enemies. I guess what many on the right fail to understand is that the "it's okay when we do it" principle is not really a coherent reason to support torture.
 

I don't know whether the facts about the Taliban alluded to in this post are true or not.

However, as a theoretical matter, waterboarding of such U.S. captives would clearly be prosecutable under the War Crimes Act as torture.

Of course, when we enacted the War Crimes Act, we applied the identical standards to ourselves. Whether the Taliban makes Prof. Addicott's argument or not, any adversary could do so. His argument weakens the protection of U.S. troops.

Ironically, even this morning Addicott is testifying before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee and arguing that waterboarding is not torture. See http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=3842&wit_id=7904
 

great post!
 

To be sure, Prof. Addicott's position is that waterboarding did not constitute torture. But if he is wrong on that point of law, according to his own testimony today:

"In conclusion, those who order, approve, or engage in torture must be criminally charged. If the United States determines that waterboarding as practiced by the CIA is torture, there is no option. Under the Torture Convention violators must be prosecuted. Similarly, lawyers at the Department of Justice who approved the practice must also be prosecuted."
 

Bart, the reaction of people with good mental health to this article was either to immediately recognize it as satire, or, on reading the full post, to recognize that it presents a plausible scenario but is satire. On the other hand, this article produced traumatic shock in your mind. Your first stage of reaction to the shock, denial, was well represented in your comments. You also show some hint of moving on to the next stage, anger, so possibly you will recover from the trauma at some point. You need to consider, however, why this produced trauma in your mind in the first place, and, beginning with self-reflection and then seeking more active help, to deal with your problems and work toward a more mentally stable outlook. I wish you the best of luck in your recovery.
 

Well, its a step up from what they do to these people.

http://theync.com/media.php?name=9681-new-video-from-al-qaeda-shows-ambush-and-murder

(NSFW)
 

Brian:

Ooops! Snared by the satire disguised as enemy propaganda ploy.

Your satire might be more effective if the enemy adoption of CIA coercive interrogation actually represented a worsening of the treatment of our POWs since WWII, when the opposite is the case. The CIA interrogation program would represent an improvement of the conditions of our captured POWs in every single war since WWII.

I was outraged because of my misapprehension that you were parroting enemy propaganda to make a political point.

I would actually be celebrating if our Islamic terrorist enemies had in reality foresworn torturing our POWs and civilians to death and instead adopted the CIA interrogation program.
 

Nice recovery, Bart, and so quickly back to your old position.

I guess my ploy, and its initially unsettling effect on you, did not prompt any thoughtful reflection or reconsideration.

Brian
 

What law would the Taliban be breaking if they tortured someone? They haven't signed the Geneva Conventions. They don't have our Clinton-era anti-torture law. So under international law, how could they be prosecuted?

That, of course, is one reason old-fashioned international law would allow American soldiers to shoot them without penalty. Being exempt cuts both ways.
 

Nice post, Brian. I love it when you and Jack do things like this.
 

Bart, you've now reached the bargaining stage. Look out because next up is depression (see, e.g., Wikipedia's entry on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross), and a whiff of that is already present in your most recent comment. If you have anyone that cares about, you should reach out to them and ask for help, or seek out a professional. As a human recognizing another human who is deeply troubled, I hope you will find help.
 

What law would the Taliban be breaking if they tortured someone? They haven't signed the Geneva Conventions.Good point. They live outside the civilized world.

Since we too now live there, the notable difference in view is they're honest about it. We lie. In that they are better than us.

That, of course, is one reason old-fashioned international law would allow American soldiers to shoot them without penalty. Being exempt cuts both ways.It is not merely unlawful for a Geneva signatory to mistreat prisoners; it is also unwise. It removes an incentive for other forces to treat our soldiers humanely. So getting even with badly behaved parties may make you feel good but is short-sighted in the extreme.
 

“Those on the Right argue as if the American public consisted of rubes at a carnival -- distract them and they won't notice which shell hides the coin.”

Come on, Mark, that’s not fair. Leaving aside the question of whom exactly I would be trying to distract (do we get a lot of “undecided” visitors here?), I am perfectly happy to have a reasonable discussion/debate about waterboarding and enhanced interrogation. I think I am pretty much the only participant here who is not 110% committed to one side or the other.

My view tends to fall along the lines expressed today by Phil Zelikow:

"I think the record will show as CIA wants it to be known that quite a number of people from both parties were aware of this program, and endorsed it over a period of years," Zelikow told The Cable on the eve of his still-embargoed testimony Tuesday. "Goodness knows, this was a problem for the people inside" like himself "who objected to the program. We were constantly told, we briefed XYZ and they had no problem with that."

But Zelikow said he is not trying to point fingers. "My point of view on this is fairly straightforward," he said. "This is now a historical problem. Our country quit doing this some time ago. I think that a lot of people agree with me in judging that this program was a mistake - a pretty big mistake. It was a collective failure. A lot of people in both parties of this country convinced themselves for years that we needed a program like this to protect America.

"And so one of the reasons I support some kind of inquiry is to comprehend why so many people believed that a program like this was a good idea - since we now believe it was a mistake," he continued. "So we can learn from the mistake. When there is this kind of collective failure, we need to learn from what happened." ...


I don’t see too many folks here willing to concede that there were understandable reasons why the government may have wanted to use harsh interrogation methods against detainees like KSM. While the interrogation program may have been a “pretty big mistake,” comparing to Nazi war crimes is ridiculous. Even comparing it to other overreactions in American history, such as the Japanese internment during WWII, is a stretch. So while I am critical of many of the decisions that were made, I am going to push back against those who engage in extreme rhetoric and illogical arguments.
 

While the interrogation program may have been a “pretty big mistake,” comparing to Nazi war crimes is ridiculous.

Well, mls, is it ridiculous to compare waterboarding by the US with waterboarding by the Khmer Rouge, for example?
 

At Brian's earlier post permitting comments, little Lisa's bro tried diversionary tactics by pointing the finger at Pelosi. Today's NYTimes OpEd by Vicki Divoll titled "Congress's Torture Bubble" provides much background on the Bush/Cheney contact with two Reps. and two Sens. The author is described as "a former deputy counsel in the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center [and] was the general counsel of the Senate Intelligence Committee from 2001 to 2003. She teaches government at the United States Naval Academy. We can expect little Lisa's bro to continue to put Pelosi on the torture griddle even if he reads and understands this article.
 

Speaking of enemy propaganda...

President Obama has actually awakened to the fact that the only results in releasing further Abu Ghraib photos would be to provide the enemy with propaganda and to inflame foreign opinion. Not only that, but Obama actually acknowledged that Abu Ghraib was perpetrated by a handful of soldiers and was not some Bush conspiracy.

Who replaced Mr. Apology Tour with Dick Cheney?
 

Our resident LLB* can provide a cite to support this?

"Not only that, but Obama actually acknowledged that Abu Ghraib was perpetrated by a handful of soldiers and was not some Bush conspiracy."

How close is this to Obama's exact words?

*Little Lisa's bro
 

the only results in releasing further Abu Ghraib photos would be to provide the enemy with propaganda and to inflame foreign opinion.

It is nice of Bart to acknowledge that propaganda is often nothing more than documentary evidence.You would think he'd have the decency to allow that it was Bush & Cheney, via the EIT program, who handed our enemies their most productive propaganda coup.
 

What law would the Taliban be breaking if they tortured someone? They haven't signed the Geneva Conventions. They don't have our Clinton-era anti-torture law. So under international law, how could they be prosecuted?

Torture is what's called a jus cogens crime, which means that no matter where in the world it occurs, any nation has jurisdiction over it. Think of pirates; they were "the common enemies of mankind" and could lawfully be attacked and stopped by anyone.

The fact that the Taliban hasn't passed a law against torture is irrelevant, just as it's irrelevant that the Bush Administration got a "legal" opinion saying torture was "legal".

That, of course, is one reason old-fashioned international law would allow American soldiers to shoot them without penalty. Being exempt cuts both ways.

Shooting soldiers who have surrendered has been recognized as contrary to the laws of war for hundreds of years. Unless you want to call back Genghis Khan, you might want to update your international law.

Come on, Mark, that’s not fair. Leaving aside the question of whom exactly I would be trying to distract (do we get a lot of “undecided” visitors here?), I am perfectly happy to have a reasonable discussion/debate about waterboarding and enhanced interrogation.

Then I see no point to raising an irrelevant issue in response.

I don’t see too many folks here willing to concede that there were understandable reasons why the government may have wanted to use harsh interrogation methods against detainees like KSM.

No, there aren't. And for good reason -- the government had no "understandable" reasons. What it did was categorically wrong.

While the interrogation program may have been a “pretty big mistake,” comparing to Nazi war crimes is ridiculous.

In bulk, of course it is. On a one-to-one comparison, it's not. In any case, I think the better comparisons are to rape or child molestation, and I'm happy to forswear the use of Nazi analogies in favor of those.
 

Ow, I'm laughing so hard my sieds hurt. poor Bart.

MLS: can you give us some suggestions as to what good reasons our govnt. might have had to violate national and international law and to cross over to the moral dark side by torturing captives?

All the expert opinion was against torturing. In fact, the experts all said (and still say) it is ineffective. So, even if Dick Cheney was sure it would work, there was no good faith reason to prefer his mere guess to the advice of experts.

So, what would have been 'good reasons' at the time? Remember: no sound expectations of getting useful information that could not be gotten without torture; violation of law; moral hazard [at least]. What arguments are we all missing?
 

Shag:

Divoll's CYA spin on behalf of Pelosi was pathetic.

There was nothing preventing Pelosi from telling CIA, DNI and the President that the CIA program was illegal "torture." Pelosi did not do so because she supported the "torture."

Article I's Speech and Debate Clause would have immunized Pelosi from any potential criminal prosecution if she had read the entire CIA briefing into the House record verbatim and then filed articles of impeachment. Pelosi did not do so because she supported the "torture."

Dude, hang it up. Even Dem Jon Stewart could not resist skewering Pelosi's transparent lies in a segment entitled Waffle House.
 

Your satire might be more effective if the enemy adoption of CIA coercive interrogation actually represented a worsening of the treatment of our POWs since WWII, when the opposite is the case.

"We're not as bad as the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese! Yaaaayyy. Hoo-rah for the Yoo Ess of Effin' Aye!"

Make that bar low enough, and even a snake can slither over.

Cheers,
 

I was outraged because of my misapprehension that you were parroting enemy propaganda to make a political point.

Someone around here needs to work on figuring out the source of his "misapprehension[s]". One recommended tactic might be to turn that radio dial as far as possible counterclockwise. Another salutary, but less feasible, approach might be to grow a brain.

Cheers,
 

MLS:

I don’t see too many folks here willing to concede that there were understandable reasons why the government may have wanted to use harsh interrogation methods against detainees like KSM.

There are understandable reasons why people blow their money in Vegas (and even more so on state lotteries). That hardly makes them good ones. And it certainly doesn't recommend these people for a role as my financial investment advisor.

Cheers,
 

mls cites detainees "like KSM"

Two immediate replies:

(1) The torture was not only applied to people of the level of "KSM" ... that's one problem with such things.

(2) Torture is of dubious value even there, as shown by testimony of an actual interrogator, putting aside its overall prudence as policy in the long haul.

Zelikow is also cited. He also was on record, his background in constitutional law helping here, saying what was proposed clearly broke the law.

Anyway, if mls agrees that it is all a big mistake, why mls keeps on bringing up how it was all so reasonable is unclear. mls elsewhere clearly stated a belief that the President should have the power to allow torture when the ends justifies the means.

Don't know what really the big mistake was in mls' eyes. Maybe that they got caught or something?
 

Mark/CTS. Lets start at the beginning. I assume that we all agree that it was reasonable after 9/11 to believe that more terrorist attacks on the US were likely to be attempted.

I also think that it was reasonable to believe that the three waterboarded detainees were withholding information that would be vital to stopping future attacks. This seems most obvious with regard to KSM, who reportedly boasted about this fact to his interrogators.

This leaves the question of whether it was reasonable to believe that fear and physical coercion would be effective methods to force the detainees to reveal information that they had refused to divulge in response to other interrogation methods. Common sense suggests that pain and fear of pain are powerful incentives to influence behavior. This, after all, is the intuition that underlies your belief that people must be punished for committing torture. You believe that the fear of punishment will deter people who otherwise might commit torture or similar acts in the future. This type of common sense intuition may not always be correct, but it certainly seems reasonable.

CTS says that all of the experts said that the methods used would not work. That is a factual assertion which does not square with anything that I have read about this matter. My understanding is that the CIA recommended the methods that were used, and that the prevailing view at the CIA, even up until today, is that the methods were effective and in fact worked. Some experts disagree, although I am not sure that these dissenting views were communicated to policymakers at the time. In any event, my view (which I am willing to reconsider if you provide actual facts, as opposed to conclusory assertions) is that it was reasonable to believe that use of waterboarding and other coercive methods would be an effective way of obtaining valuable information from the detainees.

Of course, one can accept that there were reasons to believe that waterboarding would be effective and still believe that it was “categorically wrong,” as Mark puts it. Ok, but as Zelikow notes, none of the key policymakers seem to have seen it that way. Even those who raised concerns, such as Zelikow and Harman, did not view in these kinds of absolutist terms. And most Americans do not seem to view it that way even today.

Now there are two possible ways to deal with this kind of moral disagreement. The first is to try to persuade people through coherent argument why harsh interrogation methods, even if necessary to stop a devastating terrorist attack, are so fundamentally wrong as to be off-limits. This argument would necessarily have to distinguish these methods from other activities that we undertake as part of the struggle against terrorism, many of which seem far more brutal than waterboarding.

Consider another group of people who hold strong moral views on a controversial topic. Many pro-life people believe that abortion is “categorically wrong,” even when necessary to save the life of the mother. I happen to disagree with this view, but people have every right to hold it and to try to convince others that it is morally correct. But some pro-lifers would dismiss everyone who disagrees with them as morally sick—that is not an approach which is either effective or entitled to respect. I am afraid that the “anti-torture” crowd here follows basically the same approach.
 

“Don't know what really the big mistake was in mls' eyes.”

Joe- thanks for asking. I think it was reasonable to believe that harsh interrogation methods should be used on some of the high value detainees, most obviously KSM. What I believe was a big mistake was to approach the problem by asking OLC to push the boundaries of the torture statute to the breaking point. Whether one characterizes OLC’s legal argument as frivolous, barely plausible or even reasonably strong, it had to be obvious that there was a strong argument on the other side and that there was no real way of ensuring that the interrogations would not cross the line into torture.

This mistake had several consequences. First, it put OLC and the CIA in jeopardy, politically if not legally.

Second, it diffused responsibility for the decisions to OLC and to individual interrogators, who were authorized to use these methods against any detainees. As you point out, the fact that it was necessary to use these methods on KSM does not mean it was necessary with respect to other detainees.

Third, it seems pretty obvious that this delegation of authority with regard to conducting interrogations played a role, directly or indirectly, in the detainee abuses that occurred in Abu Gharib and elsewhere.

A better approach would have been to acknowledge that the interrogation methods might violate the torture statute, but to have the President issue specific covert action findings that would allow the methods to be used on specific detainees. If the President can order an assassination in this way, it is a little hard to understand why he can’t order waterboarding. In any event, the worst that happens is that the President is impeached and possibly prosecuted criminally. If the President is not willing to take that risk, he shouldn’t ask others to take it.
 

MLS:

In any event, my view (which I am willing to reconsider if you provide actual facts, as opposed to conclusory assertions) is that it was reasonable to believe that use of waterboarding and other coercive methods would be an effective way of obtaining valuable information from the detainees.

Well, there was al-Libi, ferinstance. How'd that one work? Very well ... if the desired result was to gin up a 'rationale' for invading Iraq (and costing us 4000 servicemen's lives and a cool $1 trillion...) even if the facts didn't support such a boneheaded manoeuvre. But you just don't want to hear it. Why let facts get in the way of a good theory? What could possibly go wrong, as Rachel Maddow puts it....

Cheers,
 

MLS:

What I believe was a big mistake was to approach the problem by asking OLC to push the boundaries of the torture statute to the breaking point.

Why? Isn't the torture most effective when the pain is the greatest amount possible?

Cheers,
 

"I think it was reasonable to believe that harsh interrogation [aka torture] methods should be used on some [some vague number, but I will focus on KSM] of the high value detainees, most obviously KSM."

Your previous post ignores all those in the CIA and FBI who opposed this sort of interrogation and how in practice its use on even high level detainees were of dubious value.

Your "reading" was selective. This includes eliding past those who noted that KSM "bragged" about stuff that doesn't seem to be true.

You list problems under the approach. The CIA has if anything a bit more cover if the OLC says it is legal. To the degree torture is illegal, and that many are involved in its use, the blame is distributed to many anyway.

"A better approach would have been to acknowledge that the interrogation methods might violate the torture statute"

The FBI decided to avoid getting involved even with the cover of OLC. Many in the CIA were very wary. They would have risked charges when it was clearly stated that they were breaking the law?

"but to have the President issue specific covert action findings that would allow the methods to be used on specific detainees"

"allow" in what sense? This is a lawless action. Apparently, the CIA did not want to blatantly break the law.

This also would not really stop the problem of it spreading. The President supported varying degrees of mistreatment, not thinking only KSM and a few others had to be questioned 'harshly.'

"If the President can order an assassination in this way"

he cannot order the assassination of someone in custody ... his power to order any sort of assassination is greatly restrained

"it is a little hard to understand why he can’t order waterboarding"

it's against the law ... also, though I know it is hard for you to understand, maybe torture is different than simply killing people? We execute prisoners in this country. Is it hard to understand why we can't torture them?

"In any event, the worst that happens is that the President is impeached and possibly prosecuted criminally."

and the person who waterboarded and everyone that took part in the conspiracy are liable for charges

"If the President is not willing to take that risk, he shouldn’t ask others to take it."

this is true enough
 

Here's our resident LLB* once again out of context with:

"Divoll's CYA spin on behalf of Pelosi was pathetic."

Our resident LLB* neglects Divoll's discussion of the "Gang of Four" that included two Democrats and two Republicans, contrasting that with the "Gang of Eight" that would have included four Democrats and four Republicans. Perhaps the Bush/Cheney Administration was attempting its own CYA spin with its invitation of the the "Gang of Four" possibly in violation of a statute.

And LLB* adds:

"There was nothing preventing Pelosi from telling CIA, DNI and the President that the CIA program was illegal 'torture.' Pelosi did not do so because she supported the 'torture.'"

And just what was preventing the rest of the "Gang of Four" from doing so? Did they support "torture"? Does our resident LLB* like the Shadow know what lurks in the minds of men - and women? Let's get the details out there in a legitimate investigation. Just how does LLB* know Pelosi told the CIA, DNI and the President as well as what Pelosi and the other members of the "Gang of Four" were told? Another of the "Gang of Four" former Sen. Graham of FL it has been reported denied that "enhanced" interrogation techniques were disclosed in the briefing. Let's get the details out there in a legitimate investigation.

While LLB* accuses Divoll of CYA with her OpEd, he conveniently recognizes what Divoll said:

"Article I's Speech and Debate Clause would have immunized Pelosi from any potential criminal prosecution if she had read the entire CIA briefing into the House record verbatim and then filed articles of impeachment. Pelosi did not do so because she supported the 'torture.'"

Once again LLB* shows his Shadow qualities in reading Pelosi's mind. Were the briefings in writing that she could have read into the record? If not, was she permitted to take notes so then she could read from her notes into the record? What were the terms of the briefing provided to the "Gang of Four"? Again, let's get the details out there with a legitimate investigation.

But LLB* sluffs over the legalities set out by Divoll in her OpEd concerning the statutory aspects of the "Gang of Four" and the "Gang of Eight" and the motivations of Bush/Cheney in providing these briefings.

Exactly whose ass was Divoll covering? Her own? Pelosi's? Or was she pointing out the laws applicable? Surely a legitimate investigation could disclose ALL of what took place, including with the briefings, and whether the briefings complied with statutory procedures.

To suggest that back then Pelosi could have filed articles of impeachment is overboard even for LLB*. Doing so would have ended her political career. Keep in mind that the following year Bush declared "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED." By the way, what was that mission? Does our LLB* Shadow know?

*Little Lisa's bro
 

Check out the LATimes today:

"EDITORIAL
Release the torture photos
The Obama administration is wrong in withholding pictures portraying detainee abuse."

Hear, Hear!

And let's hope the ACLU keeps pushing in court.

By the Bybee, our resident LLB* has not responded to my "tweak" regarding his attribution to Pres. Obama on the photos.

*Little Lisa's bro
 

Before I go to make the coffee, check out Dan Froomkin's White House Watch (WaPo) yesterday: "Obama Joins the Cover-Up" regarding the pull-back on the release of the photos.

I'll be back shortly with some more questions for our resident LLB*.

*Little Lisa's bro
 

Here's an earlier comment of mine:

" Our resident LLB* can provide a cite to support this?

'Not only that, but Obama actually acknowledged that Abu Ghraib was perpetrated by a handful of soldiers and was not some Bush conspiracy.'

How close is this to Obama's exact words?

*Little Lisa's bro
# posted by Blogger Shag from Brookline : 7:44 PM"

At Salon's War Room by Alex Koppelman 5/13/09 "Obama speaks on decision to fight release of abuse photos" there appears to be set forth Obama's full statement. After reading it several times, it's clear that LLB*'s quote is based not upon Obama's statement but pulled from LLB*'s Backpack of Lies.

*Little Lisa's bro

[Note: I apologize for not providing links but I don't know how to do it "shorthand" or simply to avoid the problems with a lengthy URL that might distort the thread.]
 

Here are more details on Obama's decision on the photos:

"Obama Shifts on Abuse Photos
Releasing Images of Detainee Mistreatment Would Endanger U.S. Troops, President Says"

at today's WaPo by Scott Wilson (with contributions of Ann Scott and the great Walter Pincus).

Message to Obama: When LLB* and Max Boot agree with you, hold onto your wallet of credibility.

*Little Lisa's bro
 

Joe- you write with great certainty about what the law is and how it would be interpreted in particular situations that have never occurred. Given that no President has ever been prosecuted for anything done in office, nor has any executive official ever been prosecuted for an action specifically authorized or ordered by a President, I would think a little modesty is called for regarding these issues. One can make a theoretical argument that an executive official who acts on the authority of a presidential finding could still be prosecuted and convicted, but the practical chance of that happening are virtually zero (and of course there is always the backup plan of a presidential pardon).

I am particularly surprised by your view that an OLC opinion would be given more weight, both as a factual and legal matter, than a presidential finding. This seems both counterintuitive and rather inconsistent with the general tenor of the discussions here regarding the legal force, or lack thereof, of OLC opinions.

You dismiss my analogy to presidential findings on assassination. I will admit that this is just something that strikes me as analogous in a broad sense; I am not an expert on the legal/historical precedents in this area. However, your suggestion that torture is more illegal than killing people is less obvious to me than it apparently is to you.

Just out of curiosity, I conducted a brief google search and located an October 28, 2001 WP story, which contains the following paragraph:

“Drawing on two classified legal memoranda, one written for President Bill Clinton in 1998 [probably Presidential Decision Directive 62] and one since the attacks of Sept. 11, the Bush administration has concluded that executive orders banning assassination do not prevent the president from lawfully singling out a terrorist for death by covert action. The CIA is reluctant to accept a broad grant of authority to hunt and kill U.S. enemies at its discretion, knowledgeable sources said. But the agency is willing and believes itself able to take the lives of terrorists designated by the president.”

This sounds to me like the Bush administration changed the standing executive interpretation of what was allowed with regard to authorized assassinations. The CIA, presumably fearing that the legality of this changed interpretation might someday be questioned, was unwilling to accept a broad delegation of authority to conduct targeted killings, but was willing to accept specific authorizations from the President. This sounds very similar to my thoughts on the interrogation issue.

Finally, I wonder whether you have really thought through your apparent belief that executive officials can and should refuse to comply with presidential directives they think are illegal. Are you sure you don’t intend this to apply only to directives that you think are illegal? I suspect that if executive officials started to refuse compliance with President Obama’s directives whenever they personally thought they were (or might be) illegal, you would not be all that happy.
 

mls ..

"you write with great certainty about what the law is"

Maybe I should have said "pretty obvious" a few more times like you, when (e.g. on waterboarding) your opinions are just the opposite?

As to the "presidential finding," it was repeatedly held in law that just because the executive says something, it is not legal.

The OLC at least allegedly is tasked with a neutral study of what the law is. Yes, courts and others might (well maybe not any more) think more of that than a finding that "torture is okay here, since my people say it is necessary." Necessity is what you keep on citing here. Necessity is not a defense for torture, it is mitigation.

Your discussion of assassination in your follow-up does not dispute my point. The hazy area includes when you can kill someone not in custody. A summary execution of someone in custody is different.

Likewise, again, we execute people in this country. Killing is accepted. We don't (legally) torture. They are not treated the same way in law and morality. You seem to disagree, but disagreeing with the law doesn't make the law something it is not (see: legality of waterboarding).

As to your last point. First, it doesn't really address this immediate discussion. The matter at hand was the appropriate way to set forth rules of engagement, so to speak. Second, that is the current law. A private cannot carry out an illegal order, no matter who makes it.

In practice, breach of such an order must only occur in a compelling case. This is not a matter of some "might" cloudy case as cited by your scary hypo. When they do violate the order, they can be removed and even put on trial. All this additionally restrains the people at hand.

But, no, the President is not some demigod who should have the raw power to say anything and if s/he says it "let it be written, let it be done." We don't live in a monarchy, and even English kings did not have such power in practice. Just ask King John(or Charles!).
 

Shag .. the Speech and Debate point bothers me too.

The lack of notes might mean Pelosi would have an inexact memory of the meeting, but people testify all the time w/o the benefits of taking notes while the matter testified about took place. We don't find the testimony of little value for that reason alone.

The article said fear of "political suicide" and hurting (illegal?) CIA operations were factors in Pelosi and others not speaking out. I find both reasons dubious at best, especially given how it perverted proper checks and balances.

The op-ed reasonably read suggests the Congress aided and abetted things like perverting the meaning of "notice" by allowing notice to four or eight members to be treated as enough. Blame can be shared here.

It doesn't take the Bush Administration off the hook or anything. This has been well trodded ground.
 

Shag from Brookline said...

BD: "There was nothing preventing Pelosi from telling CIA, DNI and the President that the CIA program was illegal 'torture.' Pelosi did not do so because she supported the 'torture.'"

And just what was preventing the rest of the "Gang of Four" from doing so? Did they support "torture"?

Now you are catching on. Indeed, according to the ranking GOP Senator, some of his committee colleagues asked whether the CIA interrogation went far enough.

BD: "Article I's Speech and Debate Clause would have immunized Pelosi from any potential criminal prosecution if she had read the entire CIA briefing into the House record verbatim and then filed articles of impeachment. Pelosi did not do so because she supported the 'torture.'"

Were the briefings in writing that she could have read into the record? If not, was she permitted to take notes so then she could read from her notes into the record? What were the terms of the briefing provided to the "Gang of Four"?

Back to cluelessness. Shag, Congress is a coequal branch of government. Pelosi was not legally bound by any rules that the Executive set. Pelosi was the ranking Dem on the House intelligence committee expressly tasked with checking unlawful behavior by CIA. If she thought that the CIA interrogation was unlawful "torture," then she was duty bound to take action to stop it. The fact that she did not is strong evidence that Pelosi supported the "torture."

To suggest that back then Pelosi could have filed articles of impeachment is overboard even for LLB*. Doing so would have ended her political career. Keep in mind that the following year Bush declared "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED."

Freudian slip. You are essentially admitting that halting the CIA interrogation program was not important enough for a Dem leader to risk her political power or to impeach the President who ordered the interrogation. In that case, either you and Pelosi do not truly believe that the CIA interrogation constitutes felony torture or you both are craven cowards who would rather permit war crimes than risk your political power.

Given that Pelosi represents a hard left district in San Francisco, her political career would hardly have been in danger if she disclosed CIA "torture" and sought the impeachment of Mr. Bush. Hell, the Speaker called for surrender in the Iraq War as Gen. Petreaus was in the process of winning it - to the cheers of her constituents. Rather than providing an explanation for her support of CIA interrogation, the hard left political views of her constituents provide a reasonable explanation of why she is currently engaged in serial lying about her support for that interrogation.

Too bad for Pelosi that she does not have more apologist constituents like you.
 

If she knew about it as Bart claims (that is still an unsettled question) then let her be punished as with the others. But, pray tell, Bart, how can we know the full involvement of that commie Pelosi without an investigation into this whole sordid affair? So you're in favor of full investigation?!

You seem to be continuing to labor under the impression that this is a D vs. R affair. We don't all view this issue though the partisan lens that you seem stuck to.
 

To those who would continue to harp on Pelosi's alleged acquiescence to alleged CIA illegal activities: is it really the opinion of these alleged members of the legal profession that, when a bank has been robbed, the first person to get the book thrown at them should be the security guard who may have looked the other way?

Is it also sensible to make the argument, in such a circumstance, that, without looking at the books, we don't see a crime -- and anyway, the security guard didn't see anything, so let's just pretend nothing happened?

It was obvious by 2004 that the Bush administration was engaging in illegal activities. That a majority of the voters in this country didn't replace him says a lot about the electorate in this country. Either they don't care, or they don't bother to find out about what their elected officials are doing.

That's why, according to people who have been in places like Pakistan since then, Americans are a lot less likely to be seen as distinct from their government, whose actions are pretty uniformly loathed in the populations from which the jihadis draw their support.

If individual Americans, especially members of the executive branch and the military, were seen as willing to stand up to what they perceive as illegal orders, it could hardly hurt the image of this country abroad -- or at home, for that matter.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

mls said:

I don’t see too many folks here willing to concede that there were understandable reasons why the government may have wanted to use harsh interrogation methods against detainees like KSM.

Even as you defend it, you still use a euphemism for torture. Why is that? Does calling it torture make it harder to defend, even in your own mind?

We all have understandable reasons at times for wanting to do indefensible things. Honor is what keeps most of us from doing them. For the rest, there is supposed to be the law.
 

Joe made many of the arguments I'd make, but I'm going to add my own. I hope this posts; I've had real difficulty getting the site to load.

I assume that we all agree that it was reasonable after 9/11 to believe that more terrorist attacks on the US were likely to be attempted.

Agreed. That's been true since at least the first attack on the WTC. There's an obvious conclusion to my point which I'll let everyone draw on their own.

And just to add to that point, I'll note that we also have reasonable cause to fear domestic terrorist attacks too from the likes of Timothy McVeigh. Again I think there's an obvious point to draw.

I also think that it was reasonable to believe that the three waterboarded detainees were withholding information that would be vital to stopping future attacks.

I don't think we out here have any reasonable basis to know this one way or the other. According to Ali Soufan, there were, in fact, good reasons to believe exactly the opposite about Zubaydeh.

This leaves the question of whether it was reasonable to believe that fear and physical coercion would be effective methods to force the detainees to reveal information that they had refused to divulge in response to other interrogation methods.

No, we haven't gotten to this point. In fact, we NEVER get to this point. This is a question which, under existing law and fundamental morality, we do not ask.

There are multiple reasons we don't ask this question. I'll summarize just a few:

1. We don't ever ask this question about domestic criminals, though the same logic applies.

2. You implicitly are willing to limit your "techniques" of interrogation to a few, though the logic of your argument provides no such limitation. If we do reach the point you say we've reached, then it's reasonable to ask if sodomizing KSM would have gotten the information. Or cutting off the testicles of his son. I'll leave his daughter to your imagination.

3. The fact that those who commit a crime might benefit from it is not an excuse for committing it. In fact, that's the reason we pass laws against it. A bank robber doesn't get to come into court and say "Yeah, I did rob the bank, but I got the money." A rapist can't say, "I confess that I did achieve penetration, but I enjoyed the experience." And a torturer doesn't get to say "I know I put a cattle prod to his balls, but I got him to talk." Any criminal who tried such an excuse would not be seen as having mitigated the crime, but as having aggravated it.

Common sense suggests that pain and fear of pain are powerful incentives to influence behavior. This, after all, is the intuition that underlies your belief that people must be punished for committing torture.

Sure they are, but that's not why people must be punished. They must be punished because the abuse of someone who's defenseless violates the most basic human norms. Like child molestation.

CTS says that all of the experts said that the methods used would not work. That is a factual assertion which does not square with anything that I have read about this matter.

While I don't think it's relevant, for reasons stated above, the vast majority of expert opinion I've seen rejects torture as a successful form of interrogation. Everyone seems to agree that you occasionally get useful information, but more often you get garbage -- the victim simply makes up facts or tells his tormenters the lies he thinks they want to hear.

It's that latter result which led to the development of the precise techniques we used. Sleep deprivation, forced standing, and waterboarding were not designed by the Soviets or the Chinese to gain intelligence, they were used to gain confessions at show trials. They're very useful for that purpose. Also for trying to justify a war that the facts don't otherwise support.

Now there are two possible ways to deal with this kind of moral disagreement. The first is to try to persuade people through coherent argument why harsh interrogation methods, even if necessary to stop a devastating terrorist attack, are so fundamentally wrong as to be off-limits. This argument would necessarily have to distinguish these methods from other activities that we undertake as part of the struggle against terrorism, many of which seem far more brutal than waterboarding.

No, each tactic has to be judged on its own "merits". We don't compare them, at least not in the sense of permitting them, any more than we compare rape to murder and decide that rape should be legal because it's less of a crime than murder.

Plus, your argument bears no relation to the actual condition of things: torture is now barred. If you want to lift that bar, you can make your arguments. Until it's lifted, there is no debate about the right way to proceed.

If the President can order an assassination in this way

As Joe pointed out, presidents can't do any such thing.

In any event, the worst that happens is that the President is impeached and possibly prosecuted criminally. If the President is not willing to take that risk, he shouldn’t ask others to take it.

Agreed.

Given that no President has ever been prosecuted for anything done in office, nor has any executive official ever been prosecuted for an action specifically authorized or ordered by a President

We have kept up a polite fiction that Presidents were unaware of the criminal misconduct of their subordinates. That's a long-standing tradition from English practice. But I don't see this as relevant to people like John Yoo; he's exactly the sort of person whom we traditionally do prosecute.

However, your suggestion that torture is more illegal than killing people is less obvious to me than it apparently is to you.One obvious place to look for such comparisons would be the actual statutes. There are recognized defenses to murder. There are none -- zip, zero, nada -- to torture.

I wonder whether you have really thought through your apparent belief that executive officials can and should refuse to comply with presidential directives they think are illegal.

Our military code specifically requires our soldiers to refuse to carry out illegal orders. If soldiers are so instructed, it's pretty hard to imagine that those who are not in the military could be subject to a lesser standard.
 

"I'll take waterboarding over beheading on any day of the year."

~ John Martin

Where, Mr. Martin, would death by "rhabdomyolysis" fall within your keen order of preference here? How about rhabdomyolysis – as in the following example – owing to over 100 “peroneal knee strikes” that “pulpify” the muscles of the legs?

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days [the muscles of his legs “pulpified” by the concomitant “blunt force injuries” of over 100 “peroneal knee strikes”], could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.


~ In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths, by Tim Golden

It seems Dilawar was neither an "Arab member of al-Qaida," or of the "Taliban," but was most certainly [Like how many others?] tortured to death by U.S. personnel.
 

Further, Mr. Martin, could you also help us situate, within your estimable moral continuum, "the Cheney method of interrogation and torture" when,

". . . its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a [nonexistent] smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida."~ The Truth About Richard Bruce Cheney, by Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson

See also:

Report: Abusive tactics used to seek Iraq-al Qaida link, by John Landay
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

since this is scant on atribution, I can't tell if it's real or not...
 

Hell, the Speaker called for surrender in the Iraq War...Please stop lying, "Bart". It's unseemly and just stinks up the place. Thanks -- umm, not "in advance", but this time ex post facto.

Cheers,
 

The definitive definition if irony:

"Too bad for Pelosi that she does not have more apologist constituents like you."

Cheers,
 

C2H5OH:

is it really the opinion of these alleged members of the legal profession that, when a bank has been robbed, the first person to get the book thrown at them should be the security guard who may have looked the other way?

Unarmed security guard.

And can we please dispense with the notion that any "approval" that might have been had from the Gang of Four (or Gang of Eight) constitutes a valid legislative amendment of our laws? While they may be held to account politically in failing in their oversight duties (and the only possible action they could take would be to propose and enact new laws; they had no power to tell the maladministration to cease by themselves), and teh Dubya maladministration might be liable for misinforming them should the information passed not be accurate, thse are separate issues from whether the maladministration ordered torture in contravention of U.S. law and treaty obligations.

Cheers,
 

One can make a theoretical argument that an executive official who acts on the authority of a presidential finding could still be prosecuted and convicted....

One could make a theoretical argument that an executive official who acts on the authority of a presidential finding could not be prosecuted and convicted....

Of course, that would sound a bit like the much derided Nixon quote: "When the president does it, that means it's not illegal."

Sure, we can trot that out in the public eye and discuss the implications of accepting such a policy (and what that would say about our nation).

In fact, I'm all for such a open public discussion. I'd like to see who lines up on which side. And I'd like the public to see that as well. I'd be more than happy to point out that the Black Helicopter legions and their "gummint is the problem" comrades are capable of the most amazing hypocrisy when it serves their own political interests. They should be unmasked for the dishonest and/or foolish bunch they are, and then promptly dismissed as a relevant source of insight as to political/legal theory.

Cheers,
 

Re: "Pelosi [Graham, Shelby, and Goss] knew!"

Congress’s Torture Bubble, By Vicki Divoll

Pelosi: C.I.A. Misled Congress Over Waterboarding, By Carl Hulse and Brian Knowlton
 

Dan Froomkin's White House Watch (WaPo) today features "Deconstructing Obama's Excuses" for his about face on the release of torture photos, listing six excuses, with plenty of links. Just how wide spread were the abuses beyond Abu Graib? Let's have the torture investigation. We need transparency and accountability now more than ever.

TPM today has an interesting piece on the CIA leaking and its motivations. Leon Panetta will have to come clean on this or risk further alienating Congress.
 

More about Cheney pressing torture sessions to establish phony Saddam/al-Qaida link --

PLUS, Zelikow & Friends (members of the 9/11 Commission) relied upon and requested additional torture sessions to flesh out their report:


Cheney's Role Deepens, by Robert Windrem
 

Pelosi: C.I.A. Misled Congress Over Waterboarding, By Carl Hulse and Brian Knowlton

What a pathetic piece of work is your "torture" enabling Speaker.

This serial liar is forced to again admit that she lied and then tries to distract from her lies by claiming that the CIA lied to her.

Shag, you keep demanding an investigation. I will take you seriously when the first investigation is a congressional ethics probe and the first witnesses put under oath are the 30+ Dems who approved the CIA interrogation program, starting with Pelosi, followed by the CIA briefers. All members of Congress put under oath should be placed on notice that Article I will not protect them from perjury charges for lying under oath.

Of course, this will happen in a Dem Congress when pigs fly over a frozen hell.
 

Baghdad, many people in here have stated that they are in favor of a FULL investigation. You only seem to be interested in investigating Democrats. If there is anyone who should not be taken seriously, it is you.
 

Again, Bart, what would be the rationale for having the ethics probe first? If you are sincere in your desire to reveal who knew what and when-- wouldn't an investigation of what was actually done make sense first?

There should be accountability for all involved here. But you're not making much of a case as to why those with the least mud on them should be the first to feel the consequences.
 

manonfyre said...

Cheney's Role Deepens, by Robert Windrem:

At the end of April 2003, not long after the fall of Baghdad, U.S. forces captured an Iraqi who Bush White House officials suspected might provide information of a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime. Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi was the head of the M-14 section of Mukhabarat, one of Saddam’s secret police organizations. His responsibilities included chemical weapons and contacts with terrorist groups.

Two senior U.S. intelligence officials at the time tell The Daily Beast that the suggestion to waterboard an Iraqi prisoner came from the Office of Vice President Cheney.

“To those who wanted or suspected a relationship, he would have been a guy who would know, so [White House officials] had particular interest,” Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraqi Survey Group and the man in charge of interrogations of Iraqi officials, told me. So much so that the officials, according to Duelfer, inquired how the interrogation was proceeding...

But, Duelfer says, Khudayr in fact repeatedly denied knowing the location of WMD or links between Saddam’s regime and al Qaeda and was not subjected to any enhanced interrogation. Duelfer says the idea that he would have known of such links was “ludicrous".

The claim that it is "ludicrous" to assume that the Mukhabarat chief would have knowledge of the years long close and often operational relationship between Saddam and the al Qaeda network over the 12 years between the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War is fascinating given that this relationship is described in dozens of captured and published Mukhabarat documents.An extensive analysis I conducted as a reporter for NBC News of the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report and its monograph on terrorist travel showed that much of what was reported about the planning and execution of the terror attacks on New York and Washington was based on the CIA's interrogations of high-ranking al Qaeda operatives who had been subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques."

More than one-quarter of all footnotes in the 9/11 Report refer to CIA interrogations of al Qaeda operatives subjected to the now-controversial interrogation techniques. In fact, information derived from the interrogations was central to the 9/11 Report’s most critical chapters, those on the planning and execution of the attacks.

Ooops! I thought that the FBI assured the Senate yesterday that the CIA interrogation program failed to obtain intelligence? In fact, the key provisions of the 9/11 report rely almost exclusively upon CIA intelligence gained from enhanced interrogation.

Funny, like Pelosi and 30+ other Dem Congress critters, the 9/11 Commission also did not utter a peep about the CIA interrogation program being "torture"
 

Will said...

Again, Bart, what would be the rationale for having the ethics probe first? If you are sincere in your desire to reveal who knew what and when-- wouldn't an investigation of what was actually done make sense first?

For the last time, I am not calling for an investigation, you folks are.

I am flat out accusing you of bad faith partisan motives in calling for these witch hunts.

The fact that you Dems refuse to start with your own and, in Shag's case at least, engage in ludicrous defenses of universal congressional Dem approval for the CIA interrogation confirms this partisan bad faith.
 

What is partisan about calling for investigations for all involved? The fact that the most serious perpetrators appear to be Republicans?
 

I am flat out accusing you of bad faith partisan motives in calling for these witch hunts.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 3:42 PM

An accusation that has been repeatedly debunked.
 

The fact that you are calling for investigations into Pelosi and "30+" Dems for possible ethical issues (NOTE: No laws are alleged to have been broken, even if we accept your version of the events) while denying the need for investigations into the underlying apparently criminal conduct suggests YOU are the one acting in bad faith here. Whither the rule of law?

Also- not a "Dem" but thanks for asking
 

I also note, with some amusement, though certainly no surprise, that while you are slamming Pelosi up-thread for not standing up and speaking out against torture(which would actually be contra an agreement she signed), you took quite the opposite side on the pages of this very blog back in 2008:

"There is absolutely no valid excuse for Tamm's felonious actions blowing the TSP to the enemy. Even if he had knowledge of the program and a good faith legal basis to question its legality (which he admittedly did not), Tamm should have brought this to the DOJ IG and then to the congressional intel committees, not to the NYT and then to al Qeada.

Tamm should be indicted and brought to trial ASAP both to stand judgment for his acts and to serve as a signal example to other similar felons disclosing our operations to the enemy in a time of war. He is free to offer the defense that the TSP was unlawful and needed to be disclosed to the enemy. I doubt a jury would buy it."
Could it be that you're just being disingenuous?
 

Will,

Bart? Arguing dishonestly? Surely not.

I think what you meant to say, however, was that, if Bart is correct and no laws were broken, then Pelosi is above reproach in the matter. Contrariwise, if Bart is wrong and laws were broken egregiously, Pelosi, at the worst, is guilty of looking on and cheering while others broke them.

Last I heard, that isn't illegal. Immoral, unethical, yes, and perhaps she would, if it all came out, suffer the ultimate fate of a politician -- resignation or defeat at the polls.
 

The whole argument is empty. Complicity to a crime determines whether a crime was committed? Oh, please.

Yeah, maybe I did shoplift (I prefer to call it "enhanced consumer techniques") but, hey, my friend was there, see, and he knew I was doing it, and he didn't stop me. Yeah. Just see how far I get with that one.
 

Our resident LLB*'s Backpack of Lies has no limits:

"The fact that you Dems refuse to start with your own and, in Shag's case at least, engage in ludicrous defenses of universal congressional Dem approval for the CIA interrogation confirms this partisan bad faith."

What are the facts demonstrating "universal congressional Dems approval"? Pelosi? Graham? Who else? Name names LLB*. And exactly what was approved? Was there congressional action taken by Pelosi and Graham regarding the CIA in-terror-gations? Or was it merely silence or inaction by one Dem member of the House and one Dem member of the Senate? What authority did they have to approve the CIA in-terror-gations for Congress? Can LLB* cite a statute giving Pelosi and Graham authority to "approve" the CIA in-terror-gation techniques? The bank guard example serves a fortiori for Pelosi and Graham in that they were not even present when the CIA in-terror-gation techniques were employed and were notified AFTER the CIA in-terror-gations. How nervous were the CIA in-terror-ists to get legal cover? In addition to the OLC's three-stooges, Bybee, Yoo and Bradbury, they needed to bring in Pelosi and three other congressmen for "approval"? Under what authority? With the Gang of Four and the Gang of Eight processes they can read certain things but not make notes. Why is that? Is it fear on the part of the CIA of disclosure? The CIA takes notes but not the Congressmen? Why is that? Perhaps because of this CIA leakage Congress will change the rules.

I do not defend the failure to disclose by Pelosi et al. But if any of them had done so on a timely basis, LLB* probably would have been the first to scream: "How dare you."

So let's hope Congress doesn't get intimidated by all this and conducts a full investigation. I don't know what the CIA disclosed to Pelosi et al. Nor does LLB*. So let's have transparency and accountability promptly.

But "universal congressional Dem approval"? LLB* needs some oxygen as his Backpack of Lies gets heavier and heavier.

*Little Lisa's bro
 

Really, this thread should have just been closed and submitted to the Hall of Fame back when Bart started spluttering about "repeating enemy propaganda." Nothing that could transpire in the remaining discussion could possibly top that.
 

Dan Froomkin has added to his White House Watch (WaPo) "Cheney's Motives" with links to Wilkinson's revelations. Has George W switched roles and is now moving Cheney's lips? The more Cheney talks, the more George W can throw the blame on Cheney as the rogue elephant.

By the Bybee, why won't the CIA grant Cheney's request to release torture memos? CIA better watch out: Dick may "lock and load."
 

"Bart" DeSembler:

I will take you seriously when the first investigation is a congressional ethics probe....We will take you seriously when you state firmly and unequivocally that we ought at the least to perform an investigation into who, what, when, and all on the torturing.

And once again: If Pelosi lied (but not under oath, and not to Congress), no one here has any problem with her suffering any repercussions in whatever venue seems appropriate.

Say, did you support Larry Craig getting censured? Curious minds want to know. Not to mention, if you're intent on elevating lying to a great crime, you might drop a note to your Rethugliacan representatives and suggest they replace the big plate-glass windows with bullet-proof Lexan ... first.

Cheers,
 

Bart DeIncreasinglyPsychotic:

The claim that it is "ludicrous" to assume that the Mukhabarat chief would have knowledge of the years long close and often operational relationship between Saddam and the al Qaeda network over the 12 years between the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War is fascinating...

The clam that there was a "years long close and often operational relationship between Saddam and the al Qaeda network" is the more ludicrous one ... albeit "fascinating" in a clinical sort of way. You don't get to make up your own facts as you go along, "Bart".

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DeSembler just makes more sh*te up:

... universal congressional Dem approval for the CIA interrogation....

The tu quoque fallacy in its rawest and ugliest form. But the facts are different.

And once again, a small legal nit: Democratic "approval" (assuming argunedo any such thing happened, a claim that "Bart" provides no evidence for at all) hardly makes anything any the more legal (absent duly passed legislation by both hoses of Congress, signed by the preznit).

Cheers,
 

Ferris, what part of your quote did you not understand??" To protect and defend the constitution." Not circumvent, disregard, or rewrite.It shouldn't matter if it was Taliban, Arabs, or Europeans. Torture is Torture.We executed the Japanese and Germans for torture. We should expect the same treatment for our soliders when we violate our treaties and laws.
 

Listen Osama, is smarter than any American. He has caused this country to spend Billions of dollars,intense infighting,loss of morals and integrity,loss of status in the world and we got to live in fear. It was a small operation, which had big impact, and we responded exactly how he predicted. He knew our leaders better than we did.
 

mls:

Of course, I do not know the basis for your assertions, either.

I believe that the vast weight of expert opinion on the use of torture as a means to obtain useful information is that it does not work. In fact, it tends to be slow in getting any results [worthwhile or not].

That someone in the CIA (or the White House) wanted to use torture hardly indicates that it is a useful means for obtaining information.

And, then, of course there is that whole tiresome legal/ethical thing.

So, you are correct at least about my own view: there was no good reason to violate law and international standards by using torture.

P.S. Bart, I'm with Shag and others: let's have a thorough investigation to find out who did what and when. If nancy Pelosi gets bounced, so be it. Still, I assume that most sensible prosecutors would want to go after the actual conspirators and actors first, no? (By the way, I'm still laughing at your "for heaven's sake Brian!')
 

Actually there's no reason to attribute such brilliance to Osama. We have handed him a great recruiting opportunity, but we've handed the same opportunity to his rivals. His thinking shows a vast ignorance of the game and the playing field. And he hasn't delivered on his goals, such as driving the West out of the Islamic world.

We have likewise failed to deliver on our goals, such as spreading democracy across the Middle East or making Iraq self-governing and self-sustaining. No one would credit us with brilliance either.

No, I'm afraid the events of the past eight years are characterized by much stumbling. You can debate which side has stumbled more, but I don't think much of anyone's strategy could be characterized as brilliance. Bummer, eh? Just imagine what the conditions in the field might be today if we as the former leader of the civlized world had been thinking four moves ahead at all times. Oh well!
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

It was hard to believe, but the Dem media was actually asking Pelosi relevant and tough questions today, making this serial liar look completely foolish. Pelosi was reading from a damn script and was utterly befuddled when forced off the script - like Obama without his teleprompter answering an unexpected question at a townhall meeting. So like a little child caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar, Pelosi started calling the CIA liars. CIA slammed her back, calling for Pelosi to produce her records of the briefings to corroborate the CIA minutes.

One almost feels sorry for Pelosi, having to lie repeatedly about acting like a responsible grown up while on the Intelligence Committee in order to placate her less than responsible base. However, when I start feeling some sympathy for the Speaker, I remember that this is the partisan b_tch who is currently leading the mob calling to witch hunts of the GOP. May she twist in the wind for a good long time.

As for yet more evidence that these "investigations" are partisan witch hunts, the Obama administration refused to release the CIA memos documenting the intelligence gained from KSM & Co.. The reaason was not national security, but rather a rule that bars CIA from releasing on its own recognizance documents being sought in FOIA suit like the one brought by ACLU. In fact, the President has the authority to declassify and release these memos just as he did the OLC memos. If he is not worried about damaging national security, the only reason not to release these memos is that documentation of the lives saved would make his disclosure of CIA interrogation techniques to the enemy and order to stop this intelligence gathering look reckless and take the air out of these "torture" witch hunts.
 

"Bart" DeMakesThingsUp:

CIA slammed her back, calling for Pelosi to produce her records of the briefings to corroborate the CIA minutes.

Oh, really. Where did they do this? And even if they did, how the eff is she supposed to do this when she's not allowed to take notes in these meetings? And even if she did, "Bart" would say she's lying anyway. The CIA director has already said that the CIA's meeting minutes are not necessarily accurate.

But this is all beside the point. Whoever wins the "he said/she said" on the briefings (and let's have an investigation under oath, fine by me), that hardly makes Pelosi's previous statements a crime. OTOH, we know that those who commit torture are committing a crime. Let's not let the LSR here distract us ... which he's desperately trying to do.

Cheers,
 

But this is all beside the point. Whoever wins the "he said/she said" on the briefings (and let's have an investigation under oath, fine by me), that hardly makes Pelosi's previous statements a crime. OTOH, we know that those who commit torture are committing a crime.Well said, Sir.

I also want to say to jpk that your first post, here, truly resonated with me. I am so embarrassed when my children (21 and 16) talk about our country with disdain. They have known nothing but increasing ugliness, lawlessness, and uncivilized national behavior; they think President Obama is some kind of strange aberration - intelligent and decent - never to be repeated and never before seen.

If self-proclaimed conservative 'patriots' truly loved this country and revered its founding political morality, they would never, ever defend torturers or their legal enablers.
 

We're at 21% and falling--right in line with the number of cranks, reprobates, and loonies in the country.

Lawrence Wilkerson talking about his beloved Republican party (thanks for the link to Steve Clemons, manonfyre).

Really, this thread should have just been closed and submitted to the Hall of Fame back when Bart started spluttering about "repeating enemy propaganda." Nothing that could transpire in the remaining discussion could possibly top that.

Let's give credit where credit is due. If nothing else, Bart deserves a ribbon for persistence. The man won't give up. And the result is some pretty entertaining discussions with some occasionally very enlightening contributions.

Bart is one of a kind--or is that 21% of a kind?--and we have him to thank for some Hall-of-Fame threads.
 

Nice how Bart uses the misogynistic b-word to refer to the Speaker of the House (see 8:33 comment). One wonders what epithet he might apply to the President.
 

The people we waterboarded (as far as we know at this point) were Arabs and members of al-Qaida-- not the Taliban. We may have never even considered waterboarding members of the Taliban.

If the Taliban ever captures a U.S. soldier alive, I'd be surprised if they resorted to such tactics. I think they'd use such a captive soldier as a bargaining chip in their effort to get us to leave their country.

I'd also be surprised to hear that the Taliban was familiarizing themselves with western legal opinions. That would actually be a very welcome development.

Now, if AQ (the people we tortured) ever captured a U.S. soldier alive... forget about it. I won't waste anyone's time listing the names of Westerners who were beheaded by these people. They weren't taking the time to find legal opinions to back them up before they did so, either. I'll take waterboarding over beheading on any day of the year.
Web Hosting
 

I2carts:

We may have never even considered waterboarding members of the Taliban.

Maybe. Maybe not. And who would know, since many of those held weren't either AQ or Taliban?

But we did "consider" waterboarding Iraqis ... to get 'proof' of the non-existent AQ-Saddam link.

Now, if AQ (the people we tortured) ever captured a U.S. soldier alive... forget about it. I won't waste anyone's time listing the names of Westerners who were beheaded by these people. They weren't taking the time to find legal opinions to back them up before they did so, either. I'll take waterboarding over beheading on any day of the year.Yippee!!! We're not as bad as al Qaeda!!! We're Number One! We're Number One!!!

Cheers,
 

Ron Paul's son was on Rachel Maddow yesterday noting that Obama is drawing blood by in effect taunting Republicans for being fiscally irresponsible.

Another person referenced on the show was upset at Sen. Schumer, apparently his remarks about how the Republicans are not the party "value voters" should support again hitting too close to home.

This should not be a partisan question, and those who make it one (and, sadly, even those like McCain who have spoken out in ways worthy of our respect, make it one)might not like the result.

[see, e.g., Pelosi making a truth commission (or more) more likely than it was before]
 

Arne, when a spambot repeats a prior comment (the 3rd one in this thread) verbatim, and you hasten to respond without realizing that you've already responded to the exact same comment once already, it might be time to step back from the thread :)
 

Steve M:

Are you calling "Bart" a SpamBot? An Eliza 2.0β?

I was wondering why he kept asking me about my mother....

Cheers,
 

Seems fair to me, if the US can do it then I guess everyone else is fair game! Whats good for the goose....


RT
www.whos-watching.net.tc
 

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich unloads on current Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lies and partisan witch hunts with both barrels, calling for an ethics investigation of Pelosi for repeatedly lying to the Congress.

Amen!

Of course, the Dems are likely to investigate one of their own for lying when pigs fly over a frozen hell.
 

@John,

I know that you probably can't tell the difference, but Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is not an Arab. He's Pakistani. Perhaps you meant "Arabs OR members of al-Qaida."

Having said that does it really matter who got waterboarded and what their affiliation was? Does it make it any less reprehensible?
 

No no, Arne, I meant that I2carts was a spambot! Maybe you got that and were just joshing with me :)

By the way, isn't it funny how the people who wrongly accuse other participants in this discussion of harboring venal partisan motives are the same people who cheer the loudest at the prospect of sticking it to a Speaker of the opposing party? The word "projection" comes to mind in regards to their accusations of partisanship.
 

I think our troops would be applauding this effort.. seeing how the alternative is usually a loss of a head.
 

Our resident LLB* long positioned at the bottom of the barrel scrapes up:

"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich unloads on current Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lies and partisan witch hunts with both barrels, calling for an ethics investigation of Pelosi for repeatedly lying to the Congress."

Presumably LLB* can specify the dates and alleged lies to Congress. (Statutory cites?) How does a Congressman lie to Congress? When Congress is in session and the Congressman makes statements on the floor? In a Committee or Subcommittee session? In the course of appearing at a press conference, on TV, on radio, on the street? Should we bow to the legal expertise of our resident LLB* on the subject of lying because of his Backpack of Lies?

By the Bybee, LLB*, why did Gingrich resign as Speaker etc? Was it because he recognized his hypocrisy? To quote myself: With friends like Gingrich, who needs an enema?


*Little Lisa's bro
 

Check out today's WaPo lead editorial:


"New Images of Abuse
Why Mr. Obama should lose a battle with the ACLU"

Let's all give a cheer to the ACLU to the tune of "YMCA" and get those arms moving to "A" - "C" - "L" - "U"

You too, LLB*.

And the WaPo repeats in this editorial its call for a full independent investigation.

*Little Lisa's bro
 

Now that we know what Pelosi says she knew and when, why did she even take impeachment "off the table"?
 

@Charles-


Excellent question!
 

The Democrats have now officially gone to war against the CIA.

Yesterday, when being taken to task by the press for her serial lying denying that CIA had briefed her about waterboarding captured al Qaeda officers, Dem House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lashed out, claiming that CIA had lied to her about these al Qaeda interrogations.

Now, to defend their embattled Speaker's wild accusations, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committees are actually threatening the CIA with criminal prosecution!
Democrats on the House intelligence committee said Thursday that CIA officers broke the law in 2002 if they told Nancy Pelosi then that they had not yet engaged in waterboarding.

"If they make a false report, absolutely it's illegal," said Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. "If they fail to make a report when they're obligated to that is also illegal — a violation of the National Security Act."

Said CIA Spokesman George Little: “It is not the policy of the CIA to mislead the United States Congress.”

Schiff said that the "question of recourse [against the CIA] has come up actually a number of times — not just in this context." But he said it's "very difficult because for one thing you can't publicly disclose the information and to actually bring perjury charges or bring an action under the National Security Act without making it public is probably not possible."

The act provides little in the way of recourse, but the committee is seriously looking at revising the law so that there are ramifications for failing to brief Congress on critical intelligence matters, aides said.

With his agency under unprecedented attack by his own political party, CIA Director Leon Panetta was placed in the uncomfortable position of calling the Dem Speaker of the House a liar while attempting to reassure his agents that the Democrat party would not persecute them for defending the country:
Leon Panetta, President Obama's pick to run the clandestine agency and President Clinton's former chief of staff, wrote in a memo to CIA employees Friday that "CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing 'the enhanced techniques that had been employed,'" according to CIA records.

"We are an agency of high integrity, professionalism and dedication," Panetta said in the memo. "Our task is to tell it like it is — even if that’s not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it."

In the pep talk-style memo titled "Turning Down the Volume," Panetta encourages CIA employees to return to their normal business and not to be distracted by the shout-fest Pelosi's remarks created.

"My advice — indeed, my direction — to you is straightforward: Ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission," Panetta wrote. "We have too much work to do to be distracted from our job of protecting this country."

Good heavens! Does this Democrat government intend to be a one of two great parties in our American Republic or criminal junta more befitting a banana republic? If the Dems remove their corrupt and lying Speaker, they can show themselves to still be a great party. However, if the Dems abuse their power to persecute those who defend our country in the CIA for the crime of exposing their Speaker's lies, then they have officially degenerated into a criminal junta that needs to be run out of power forthwith by the voters.
 

Bart-- seek help now
 

Does anyone else find it hilarious that when the CIA says Pelosi was briefed, their word is unimpeachable, but when the CIA says Valerie Plame was covert, they're obviously full of crap? Funny how that works.

Of course, thoughts like these tend to emanate from the same brilliant minds that think investigating Nancy Pelosi for lying to Congress is an awesome idea, but investigating the CIA for lying to Congress is crazy talk.
 

The sad thing is that Obama is doing the same way, albeit adding a "little change".

And the war criminals among the former administration are not to be prosecuted at all.

Obama made them exempt from the law, which is fascinating - it means that Obama is the new king and can pardon people no matter what they did.
 

To make a larger comment on all of this-- I must confess I am somewhat surprised with the attention being afforded this by the GOP and our man Bart here. Wouldn't it be in the best interests of these folks to STOP talking about this? What's the most you hope to achieve with this Bart... the longer this goes on, the longer torture, in one form or another, is still on the front page.

Republicans are so consumed with winning the 24-hour news cycle there is no long-term coherent strategy here. ?
 

Will:

If you are not appalled that the power of Congress is being abused to persecute CIA briefers for the "crime" of exposing the serial lying of the Speaker of the House to Congress and the American People, then that answers the question I posed about whether the Dems are still a great political party or a criminal junta who will destroy anyone without a second thought to maintain power.

What more is there to be said?
 

You're right about one thing, Bart-- there's not much more that can be said to you
 

I'm a firm believer in the separation of church and state. But we need a Church-type Commission to investigate the state of the CIA and Bush/Cheney on torture.
 

What more is there to be said?

# posted by Bart DePalma : 4:55 PM

"You need to seek help" is the first thing that comes to mind.
 

Will:

Thanks (I try to sneak one of those in every once in a while). As for former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, he had some excellent questions as well (apart from whether Pelosi "lied" or not):

Newt notes that Pelosi is engaging in a "despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort" to withhold what she knew and is a "trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowest of purposes, and she dishonors the Congress by her behavior."

"Speaker Pelosi's the big loser, because she either comes across as incompetent or dishonest. Those are the only two defenses," he continued. "The fact is, she either didn't do her job, or she did do her job and she's now afraid to tell the truth."

"I think that the House has an absolute obligation to open an inquiry, and I hope there will be a resolution to investigate her. And I think this is a big deal. I don't think the Speaker of the House can lie to the country on national security matters."

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/15/pelosi.waterboarding/
 

Gingrich thinks Pelosi's ethics should be investigated?

Well, when it comes to ethics violations, he ought to know!

But of course hypocrisy that knows no bounds is nothing new for Newt.

Ah well, just when you thought the Repub Party couldn't possibly marginalize itself any further. Just when you thought zero-credibility-Dick and his torture cheerleading had lost all the Americans the Repubs had left. No, amazingly enough, the Repubs can make the tent even smaller. There's no room for anyone brighter than the average six year old, anyone who understands that you too is not a defense, it's a fallacy.
 

It's not a logical fallacy for an ethics violator to know one when he sees one. You ever watch "To Catch a Thief"? In addition, Gingrich could have repented from his wicked ways and is pointing out Pelosi's as a public service, maybe even out of the goodness of his heart (i.e. Chuck Colson with his prison ministry).
 

I have read patiently for months now regarding both sides of the water-boarding issue. As an ex-military member who has been "water-boarded" as a training venue, I feel I can comment with a little more factual information on the technique than many comments contained in this blog and elsewhere. Whether it is "torture" or not is semantics -- a personal choice to regard it as torture or not based on each individual's life experience. From mine, while extremely un-pleasant, I did not feel it was torture (I personally know people who have really been tortured and there is a huge difference between a real threat of dying from the physical effects and the psychological effects of water boarding). What the U.S. has done to these hardened terrorists is psychological torment, but none of them faced a truly life-threatening experience. While I don’t like everything about Cheney’s recent arguments or agree whole heartedly with the GOP prosecution of our war on terror efforts, there is ONE indisputable fact --- there has not been another 9/11 event on U.S. soil and the results of our “harsh” interrogation techniques on these “monsters” / “rapid dogs” had a lot to do with your and my safety. I purposely identified these so-called torture victims as less than human entities because that is exactly what they are --- they kill or maim indiscriminately, conduct “real” torture on EVERYONE who is not completely behind their vision of the world and believe me, their vision, once witnessed by their ignorant supporters here and elsewhere, would terrify even the most apologetic and appeasing among these forums. War is not a gentleman’s sport and soldiers are the last to advocate for it, but recognize that it is sadly a necessary evil and ugly. I hope that our country comes to realize that fact and stops giving moral aide to our enemies before you see the necessity first hand here in your neighborhoods.
 

I'd say Gingrich's qualifications are well established for understanding ethics violations in the Speaker of the House.

Unfortunately, his own violations were in the nature of making false and misleading statements. That's why his public statements can't be taken seriously.

As six year olds are taught: "if you lie a lot, you will get to be known as a liar, and no one will believe you any more".

Likewise six year olds are taught: "he did it too is not an excuse for you doing it".

Then there's "if something is wrong, it's not wrong only if others do it to you". At six this concept can be hard to grasp. It gets in the way of the six year old's doing whatever he wants yet complaining whenever it's done to him.

Really, one characteristic Repub pattern these days seems to be recalcitrant six year old behavior. Maybe that's why Americans are tuning out; we've seen screaming six year olds, most of us; we don't need to watch it in public office.
 

there has not been another 9/11 event on U.S. soilShoe bomber. Anthrax.

Sorry; "torture kept us safe" doesn't wash. Despite Bush's repeated fairy tales that don't stand up to examination.

In fact it's the other way around:

"I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans."

I do count American soldiers as Americans, and the best America has to offer. I do regard their sacrifice as a sacred trust. I do mourn the death of thousands of them, and the maiming of many, many more. I do wish we had not tortured prisoners and one reason is if we had not, many American men and women in uniform would be coming home, alive and in one piece, who are not.
 

Sorry, citation for above quote ("I learned in Iraq...") went missing. It's I'm Still Tortured By What I Saw In Iraq. The author says:

"I'm not some ivory-tower type; I served for 14 years in the U.S. Air Force, began my career as a Special Operations pilot flying helicopters, saw combat in Bosnia and Kosovo, became an Air Force counterintelligence agent, then volunteered to go to Iraq to work as a senior interrogator. What I saw in Iraq still rattles me -- both because it betrays our traditions and because it just doesn't work."
 

What the U.S. has done to these hardened terrorists is psychological torment, but none of them faced a truly life-threatening experience.

Even the dead ones?
 

"I have read patiently for months now regarding both sides of the water-boarding issue. As an ex-military member who has been 'water-boarded' as a training venue, I feel I can comment with a little more factual information on the technique than many comments contained in this blog and elsewhere. Whether it is 'torture' or not is semantics -- a personal choice to regard it as torture or not based on each individual's life experience. From mine, while extremely un-pleasant, I did not feel it was torture ...."

Ah, but TK was a volunteer when he/she unwent water boarding. Perhaps there is a difference when one is not a volunteer and is considered to be a terrorist (before due process) and doesn't have the confidence that the in-terror-gator will make sure that the in-terror-gation will stop before it gets too far. Now if TK had been forced and had no assurance he/she would be protected, then TK's point might be more impressive. Query: Does TK have data on Americans who voluntarily were water boarded regarding negative results? Because of TK's water boarding experience, is he/she suggesting that if the enemy subjected him/her to this, he/she would not have had problems surviving as well as not disclosing vital information to the enemy?
 

TK said:

As an ex-military member who has been "water-boarded" as a training venue, I feel I can comment with a little more factual information on the technique than many comments contained in this blog and elsewhere. Whether it is "torture" or not is semantics -- a personal choice to regard it as torture or not based on each individual's life experience. From mine, while extremely un-pleasant, I did not feel it was torture (I personally know people who have really been tortured and there is a huge difference between a real threat of dying from the physical effects and the psychological effects of water boarding).

I don’t have your experience, but I did go through Air Force survival training, which included being in a “POW internment camp” for about 24 hours. While I would characterize it as extremely unpleasant, I knew that my life wasn’t danger. When they tried to stuff me in a little box, and I wouldn’t fit, they simply took me somewhere else. I doubt an enemy would be so accommodating. Similarly, I suspect that your experience with waterboarding could not convey the feeling of having it done multiple times by people you’ve been trying to kill.

What the U.S. has done to these hardened terrorists is psychological torment, but none of them faced a truly life-threatening experience.

Except for those who died while in captivity.

While I don’t like everything about Cheney’s recent arguments or agree whole heartedly with the GOP prosecution of our war on terror efforts, there is ONE indisputable fact --- there has not been another 9/11 event on U.S. soil and the results of our “harsh” interrogation techniques on these “monsters” / “rapid dogs” had a lot to do with your and my safety.

That’s one fact (assuming you don’t count the Anthrax attacks) and one assertion. We don’t know whether the torture policy had a lot, a little, or anything at all to do with our safety.

I purposely identified these so-called torture victims as less than human entities because that is exactly what they are --- they kill or maim indiscriminately, conduct “real” torture on EVERYONE who is not completely behind their vision of the world and believe me, their vision, once witnessed by their ignorant supporters here and elsewhere, would terrify even the most apologetic and appeasing among these forums.

That’s the first step in being willing to use torture: dehumanize the victims. If you can see the victim as something less than human, what you do to them doesn’t seem so bad. Slavery existed for hundreds of years using that attitude.

Unfortunately, many of the victims (and I consider that the torture extended well beyond the waterboarding) were guilty of nothing other than being in the wrong place, or being disliked by someone we paid to betray “terrorists”.
 

Of course the US soldiers were hiding behind non-combatants, plotting terrorist attacks on non-combatants, and captured while not wearing uniforms.....

Hell, I have been waterboarded. It isn't fun, but at the end of the day you are not damaged.

I bet Andrew Sullivan would pay to go to a club where people did that to him.
 

Don Meaker:

Andrew Sullivan has paid for lots worse.

jpk:

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
 

there has not been another 9/11 event on U.S. soil They don't have to come here to attack us, you idiot, we sent lots of targets to them.
 

I have posted a response to Divoll's NY Times op-ed at www.pointoforder.com
 

Nice how Bart uses the misogynistic b-word to refer to the Speaker of the House (see 8:33 comment). One wonders what epithet he might apply to the President.
Web Hosting
 

We were at war. 3 people were interrogated using waterboard techniques. It was not considered illegal due to circumstances, we were attacked on our soil and were using it to save American lives.

You may not agree but there is no argument for this being illegal. If your parents or siblings were killed in the next wave of bombings, you would react differently. You may be arguing today because the former administration saved our individual feedoms.

Please, find something worth protesting about - maybe the President running Chrysler/GM, the President speaking at NB, even the President keeping military tribunals - that's right, he changed his mind, I almost forgot.

George is gone. We have another idiot in the White House.
 

He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Some say the Constitution "is not a suicide pact" even though the Constitution doesn't say anything of the sort.

OTOH, the Bible says suicide is just what the messiah ordered.

Apologies for this OT post.
 

Occasional Balkinization contributor Michael Paulson takes Justice's OPR to task for its own ethical violations, political bias and incompetence concerning the law examined in the OLC memos in this excellent and damning Weekly Standard article.
 

Does our resident LLB*'s right wing pal Michael "Different Strokes" Paulson have a copy of the draft report? Has it been released to the public? Or is "Different Strokes" reading tea leaves in his "Weakly Standard" screed? Is this part of the right wing's pre-emptive attack on the draft report before its official release? And when's the last time "Different Strokes" deigned to post at this Blog? He's so irregular Jack should send him some Metamucil.

*Little Lisa's bro
 

Check out today's WaPo lead editorial:


"What Ms. Pelosi Knew
It's a good question, but not the only important one in this torture debate."

Yes, this question should be included in the full investigation that the WaPo continues to call for.

Let's include Pelosi and Graham and Leon Panetta on the griddle exposed to the sunshine of transparency and accountability, along with the Bush/Cheney gang, including the OLC's Ritz Brothers lawyers, at a full inquiry.
 

Don't forget to investgate where all the leaks to the press came from.
 

I haven’t yet read the comments so others may have already made these points.

For satire to be effective it has to have some relation to reality. There has to be some sort of logical parity between the thing satirized and the satire itself.

Does the satirist actually believe the Taliban would limit their treatment of captured US soldiers to mere waterboarding?

Does the satirist actually believe that the fact that many US soldiers have been waterboarded for no other purpose than mere training to be irrelevant to the debate on the issue?

The naivete of such a stance boggles the mind.

If I were an American soldier captured by the Taliban I would be relieved if I emerged from the experience alive and unharmed - which was and is the experience of the three terrorists who were waterboarded by the CIA.

Finally, this blog purports to be a legal-oriented blog. Has anyone here actually read the law covering torture? I need very much to have it pointed out to me which part of that law has been violated.
 

Shag:

Does our resident LLB*'s right wing pal Michael "Different Strokes" Paulson have a copy of the draft report?

You mean apart from details of the report extensive enough to fill 3500 word articles in the Dem media which were unethically leaked by the Obama OPR and quoted here?
 

I need very much to have it pointed out to me which part of that law has been violated.your needs satisfied
 

grackle:

Be sure to read the responses on that thread, not just Lederman's assertions. Nothing outlined in the OLC memos has be proven to be against the law.
 

And just how does our resident LLB* distinguish the Bush/Cheney OPR from the Obama OPR in making this determination?

" ... which were unethically leaked by the Obama OPR .... "

Let's make this part of the full investigation as well to determine whether what was leaked was unethically leaked by the Bush/Cheney OPR or the Obama OPR. Perhaps our resident LLB* can cite to exactly what was leaked and by whom? Did the OLC Ritz Brothers lawyers (Bybee, Yoo and Bradbury) receive copies of the draft report from the Bush/Cheney OPR courtesy of then AG Mukasey so they could respond to the draft report as it related to their roles with the torture memos/opinions? Apparently LLB* cannot await a public release by OPR of the report.

*Little Lisa's bro
 

Grackle,

If you read the links to the new post I just put up, you will see an extensive examination of the legal analysis.

Bart,

Unlike you, I not convinced of the soundness of Paulsen's analysis. (thanks for the link). My main point is that he does not actually tell us why the legal memos were "correct," although he assures us of this repeatedly (based upon his authority).

Brian
 

For those who are still wondering, this post is a satire.

Brian
 

Thanks to jpk, Charles and Brian. I’ve read the material. Perhaps they could read what they find at …

http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2009/04/no-prosecution-because-no-crime.html

… and tell us where this expert on international law is wrong.
 

For those who are still wondering, this post is a satire.Yes, bad satire.
 

BTW, it’s been my experience in the blogosphere that when a questioner is told to ‘go read’ something it usually means that an argument or two is weak somewhere.

Meanwhile, there’s a couple of questions I posed in my first comment that have gone unanswered. You folks seem like clever people. What gives?
 

BTW, it’s been my experience in the blogosphere that when a questioner is told to ‘go read’ something it usually means that an argument or two is weak somewhere.

This is a very peculiar statement. It sounds like an argument against doing research and basing one's opinions on sound information.

OTOH, if you meant that the "weak argument" belonged to the "questioner" then I guess I would agree.
 

BTW, it’s been my experience in the blogosphere that when a questioner is told to ‘go read’ something it usually means that an argument or two is weak somewhere.

This is a very peculiar statement. It sounds like an argument against doing research and basing one's opinions on sound information.I’m not a lawyer - I’m just an ignorant layman who gets confused by conflicting legal opinion. One lawyer says one thing, another lawyer says something completely opposite. Somebody MUST be right, but who? If that’s “peculiar,” then I plead guilty.

What I find kind of “peculiar” is that I have asked some fairly simple(I thought) questions concerning the ‘satire’ above and the law concerning torture but the only response so far has been to be told to read some complicated legal analyses that I am admittedly not qualified to interpret.

There IS a law concerning torture and it’s obvious that there is an opinion here that that law has been broken. One of the questions I’m asking is what part of that law was violated. In your varied practices of the law hasn’t anyone of you ever had to explain some aspect of law in layman’s terms? Perhaps to clients?

On the subject of “research,” what I’m trying to do in my own bumbling manner by asking 2 or 3 questions is my own crude version of “research.” A poor method but the best I can do short of attending law school myself.

If these questions of mine are discomforting to the blog owner, whom I assume to be Jack Balkin, then a word from him and I’ll move on without further disruption.
 

grackle, for a person who freely confesses his ignorance you sure came in here with a prejudicial attitude.

to be told to read some complicated legal analyses that I am admittedly not qualified to interpret

If you don't appreciate being told to educate yourself, AND you don't think you are qualified to understand the educational materials, then WHY are you commenting here? Just to show off your ignorance?
 

grackle, for a person who freely confesses his ignorance you sure came in here with a prejudicial attitude.I have asked some questions, most of them not legal in nature. Rather than answers I have been directed elsewhere to read esoteric legal material understandable only to someone with the education that comes with a law degree, which I did read to the best of my limited ability. I’ve tried to explain that I’ve no training in law.


I do have an opinion on waterboarding, which I think is the “attitude” you may be characterizing as “prejudicial”(please correct me if I’m wrong), but don’t you think it would be rather odd if I DIDN’T have some sort of opinion about an issue that has been very much a subject of public debate in recent days? Is it only lawyers that should have an opinion about waterboarding? Is it only those who agree with you that are allowed to participate in the discussion?


However, I recognize that I may be wrong about any subject under the sun and stand ready to be enlightened to a different opinion if presented with convincing arguments. But that really has to do with the morality of waterboarding, which is quite a different thing than the legality of waterboarding, don’t you agree?


If you don't appreciate being told to educate yourself, AND you don't think you are qualified to understand the educational materials, then WHY are you commenting here? Just to show off your ignorance?I DO appreciate the impatience that those with extensive knowledge of a subject and with a familiarity with the attached jargon might have for the uninitiated.


The last time(before this thread) I asked a lawyer a question about law that lawyer didn’t tell me to go “educate” myself but instead patiently answered my question in clear language understandable to anyone with average intelligence. Would it seem provocative of me to note in passing that this current experience has so far been very different than that experience?


Why am I commenting? Oh, for a couple of reasons.


I HAD hoped to learn something about the legality of waterboarding. I had been exposed to some material at the URL I posted before – which the author managed to frame in fairly jargon-free, understandable language. But I recognized that there may be another side to this issue(the legality of waterboarding), went looking through Google and stumbled across this blog.


The other reason is that after reading the satire and comments that followed I had hoped to change some minds here about the morality of the waterboarding that took place – or perhaps come to some new understanding myself. That hope is still with me.
 

I had hoped to change some minds here about the morality of the waterboarding that took place – or perhaps come to some new understanding myself. That hope is still with me.

You want to convince people here that waterboarding is moral?! Yikes-a-doodle!

Have a look at 18USC2340.

Here is a long but entertaining and educational thread at The Volokh Conspiracy which is a more conservative law blog compared to this one.

I would really encourage you to read through that entire Volokh thread because there are many very smart and well spoken commenters there. I also would hope that reading that thread will disabuse you of the idea that you have more than a tiny chance of changing peoples minds, especially people with whom you have virtually no familiarity.

As a general proposition I wouldn't try too hard to change a person's mind until such time as I'd gotten some sense of their personality and beliefs. That means committing yourself to listening to people before you preach to them.
 

It is satire if for no other reason than anyone knows the darker reality (for those actually given, as my good Lefty pals are on Culture, err….Science Blogs to moral equivalency of all forms) that any captured soldier will be beaten, skinned, gutted, and decapitated. In fact, this has happened, verifiable in no small measure to the dozens of gory snuff films available for download by internet ghouls.

As to those nasty “facts of the matter” regarding Geneva, it HAS come to the attention of some (though not yet the USSC) that Geneva has a dark side as well, and does apply to uniformed officers, though not the Taliban. The ACLU does not understand this, no, but the point is that this tonque-in-cheek reporter over at Balkinization surely knows that this must make the piece all that more funny in his mind.

Not that Geneva did us any good in Vietnam and in the Pacific theater in WWI. It didn’t. Just ask those poor guys who watched, not waterboarding and spritzes of water put up the nose, but rather burnings, sexual mutilation, and mass executions in front of your pals.

Yeah–what a hoot.
 

"wakefield Tolbert":

Not to be difficult, I would appreciate your making your point[s] less obliquely.

Again, I do not mean to be provocative or rude; I simply do not understand your post.
 

Thanks to jpk, Charles and Brian. I’ve read the material.Thank Marty, not me.

and tell us where this expert on international law is wrong.Let's see. You don't need international law: U.S. domestic law forbids torture.

Jacobsen uses a common approach of torture apologists: it has to be torture, and it has to be torture according to my standard, or I can do it.

No it doesn't. When we ratified Geneva we made U.S. law forbid inhumane treatment, as well as cruel or degrading treatment, as well as torture. You don't get to move the bar up to what you agree is torture.

So Jacobsen's expertise and wisdom have eluded me here. I'm missing the part where he explains why the plain language of the law doesn't apply. Because he wants to talk about some other law doesn't strike me as compelling.

However if parsings such as Jacobsen's impress you, there is an option you make like: we, the United States, through a vote of the Senate, I am told, can revoke U.S. ratification of Geneva, and join the honest nations who don't claim to be part of the civilized world when they're not. Then Jacobsen and his ilk can put together a compelling legal analysis that's bulletproof: it's perfectly legal in this country to do what the civilized world doesn't. We're not civilized.
 

I HAD hoped to learn something about the legality of waterboardingIt was clearly understood as completely illegal for over 200 years in this country. We sent people to long stretches of prison for doing it. If you are thinking of doing it, please be advised it is against the law.
 

Here is a long but entertaining and educational thread at The Volokh Conspiracy which is a more conservative law blog compared to this one.I did go as asked to the Volokh thread and read far into the night. The thread was indeed educational. Looking back on my comments, especially my first comment, is embarrassing. I realize now that the naivete was on my part. I understand now that to have answered my question on law in the manner that I demanded would have required a lengthy essay – an unreasonable expectation.

I recommend the Volokh thread to anyone who is interested in the issue of waterboarding – or torture in general. It has vigorous debate and links, which lead to other links, and, well, you get the picture.

I need to explore the subject further. I don’t change my mind willy-nilly but I guess anyone can tell from my tone that my convictions have been shaken. There’s some things still in question – for instance, the still unreleased memos re the foiled plots Cheney keeps talking about - things now unknown that may have happened behind the scenes that could prove to be at least somewhat exculpatory. We need the full story – people need to be put under oath – not just the lawyers but Bush, Cheney and on down the line to the CIA personnel involved, both high and low – if it can be done without jeopardizing our security.

I still think the satire is flawed – we all know what would probably happen to an American soldier unfortunate enough to fall into the clutches of the Taliban.

To any reader of this thread, now or in the future, be assured that I am not a sock puppet, provocateur or any other kind of trickster, just an ordinary person who values the truth and wants to do the right thing.

Adios and peace be with you all.
 

people need to be put under oath – not just the lawyers but Bush, Cheney and on down the line to the CIA personnel involved, both high and lowI think you'd find broad agreement on that.

if it can be done without jeopardizing our security.As any reporter with a government beat can tell you, the more likely jeopardy is it would embarrass politicians.
 

CTS

My point was that this can only be satire.

It is unlikely the Taliban would stop the torment at putting water on people's heads.

They do not think there is moral equivalency here, and would not act as though there were.
 

Moral equivalency? Well, as far as I know, the Taliban has never claimed to be part of the civilized world. We have. In that they have higher morals than we do; they don't make claims they don't live up to.

The word games we engage in to pretend our treatment of prisoners is lawful and not torture is pointless unless we claim to be part of the civilized world; Otherwise we could just say "sure do torture; that's how I roll". We want to have it both ways; that's where we're hypocrites and the Taliban is not.

Now someone will say that may very well be, but the actual fact of what Taliban does to prisoners is way worse than any hypocrisy on our part. No. The fact that others are worse is not a moral asymmetry of which we can be proud, as has been noted here: "Nazis and Imperial Japan did worse" just sets the bar ridiculously not to mention horrifically too low. Then there's the fact that have tortured prisoners to death. That kind of pins the meter on moral failure.
 

It has been hell for many poor souls for the benefit of few who sit on high official posts. Young sons and daughters of innocent people are dying out there. exbi chao
 

They also cut off people's heads in soccer stadiums is that our fault too apologists?
 

However, if you have the time or expertise, have to do all these tasks, it suddenly becomes more logical, RS Gold specialized farmers. WOW Gold Eu, various items, including horses and battle to buy equipment.
 

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