"A former Navy survival instructor subjected to waterboarding as part of his military training told Congress yesterday that the controversial tactic should plainly be considered torture and that such a method was never intended for use by U.S. interrogators because it is a relic of abusive totalitarian governments.
Malcolm Wrightson Nance, a counterterrorism specialist who taught at the Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school in California, likened waterboarding to drowning and said those who experience it will say or do anything to make it stop, rendering the information they give nearly useless." Josh White
I would like to know in what universe waterboarding would not be considered torture. Perhaps it was the universe inhabited by the KGB, the Gestapo or the Tonton Macoutes. I would like to stay out of that universe.
I have thought from the beginning of this horror that many of these interrogation "techniques" were imported from the SERE schools and had not been US interrogation methods. I still think that.
I believe I know Nance. If it is the man I am thinking of he is not exactly a sissy. Actually, he is nothing like a sissy.
I am always "impressed" by the "heros" who say resolutely (with steely glint) "Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do…" Mostly, the people who say things like that have never done anything except talk tough and make money (maybe). Mostly, the people who say that kind of thing want someone else to do "what a man’s gotta do." Mostly, they want people like me or the people who used to work for me to do it. Mostly, the "tough guys" would throw up if they saw what they like to babble about.
Waterboarding is worse than a crime. It is stupid. (That was a quiz. 10 points for recognizing the quote) As Nance says in the article, when you are being drowned, you will say anything, anything, anything…. Surely that should lead to the conclusion that, at the very least, it is useless to waterboard people. Useless, unless you happen to be a sadist who just likes doing things like that without regard to rational thinking. People like me are given to rational thinking and moderation in action. That’s what the word "professional" implies. Waterboarding should not be something that the United states allows, EVER.
In extremis, I might do something really beastly to someone to satisfy the needs of the "ticking bomb" fantasy scenario, but it would not be waterboarding, and I would want to know that it was not legal. pl
This says a lot about those “American Values” always worn on the sleeve by a certain political party in this country.
Me and mine, and may the devil take the hindmost.
“I would like to know in what universe waterboarding would not be considered torture. Perhaps it was the universe inhabited by the KGB, the Gestapo or the Tonton Macoutes.”
You forgot Dick Cheney and Rudolph Guiliani – our present and future universe.
Talleyrand, commenting on the execution of the prince d’Enghien.
Well, Talleyrand once observed that something was worse than a sin, it was a mistake. That’s as close as I can get on the quiz, colonel.
I appreciated this post very much. Unfortunately, like so many other things that “conservatives” have now rendered (no pun) debateable, torturing people is now a “policy discussion”.
And our newest AG can’t definitively state that waterboarding is illegal under existing US law. That’ll get us somewhere.
I can’t tell you the number of times one now hears “conservatives” blathering that “torture works” or somesuch crap. We are regressing as a nation, and this simply more proof that an “empire” mentality is now quite commonplace.
I can understand, despise but understand, how intellectual lightweights like Bush & Co would think torture is “great” but what in God’s name is Alan Dershowitz thinking, http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010832. Apparently, the Gestapo did it with good results so why can’t we? Sorry that I can’t do the link thing, but I’m a computer idiot. But its there. I found the link at Angry Arab site. I despair for my country!
Talleyrand on the execution of the Duc d’Enghien. Napoleon trying to intimidate any Royalists still dreaming of restoration. It backfired although it took a while.
Long time listener, first time caller. I’m reading some histories on the Napoleonic era.
I agree with your opinion here. I loved the quote from Sen. Schumer during the Mukasey vote about our soon-to-be new attorney general being “wrong on torture.” Um, well…then why is he now the top law enforcement official in our land?
(That’s not a quiz. The answer is obvious.)
Keep up the great work.
“It was worse than a crime, it was a blunder.” is attributed to Talleyrand on the kidnapping and murder of the Duc D’Engian (sp?) by Napoleon.
I would say that Napoleon would be insulted by the implied comparison, and I say that as the grandson of the grandson of a Dutchman who died in Spain fulfilling the Corsican’s fantasies of empire. (His brother, OTOH, crossed the Neiman twice. One in a hundred…)
Gentlemen, if we acknowledge the reality that water boarding is torture, our President, Vice President and a significant number of government officials might be indicted as war criminals.
Would look good on Dumbya legacy, would it?
Remember Carl Gustav Jung famous quote on torture:
“The healthy man does not torture others – generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers.”
I think it was Talleyrand, who was in fact referring to martyring someone by extrajudicial process who otherwise richly deserved everyone’s contempt. An apt reference indeed.
Was it Talleyrand or Fouche? “C’est pire qu’une crime, c’est une faute.”
I have always assumed the spectators in this painting were based on Bosch’s studies of people attending public executions.
The image quality is not good but enlarged image is no longer available at Bosch Universe.
Did you see the recent quotes by that mental giant, men among men, Alan Dershowitz who claimed that torture indeed worked? He cited the use of torture by the Nazis to gain information about underground movements.
I guess he didnt see the irony in using that example. So we want to compare ourselves to the Nazis to justify our actions?
“In extremis, I might do something really beastly to someone to satisfy the needs of the “ticking bomb” fantasy scenario, but it would not be waterboarding, and I would want to know that it was not legal.”
And more to the point: there’s nothing stopping you from doing just that, and then after the bomb has been defused, turing yourself in and throwing yourself on the mercy of the jury. I can’t think of a dozen Javerts who would convict you. This entire issue is a ridiculous red herring for those who wish to expand the power of the executive to include fear and terror. Torture has always been used more to extract confessions than intelligence and to terrorize than to win battles. The Inquisition didn’t need to “get information” from conversos and moriscos – they wanted confessions and they got them. The people arguing for this torture don’t want information, either. They want the power of terror over those in their custody.
It was worse than a crime, it was a blunder. Talleyrand of the murder of the Duc d’Enghien by Napoleon I.
Aside from that:
I have started to read all reports about this damned issue replacing “torture” with “rape” and waterboarding with “forced sodomy”. It seems to give some realistic perspective.
Useless, unless you happen to be a sadist who just likes doing things like that without regard to rational thinking.
Fits Bush/Cheny and half of Congress – doesn’t it?
Thank you for posting this Col.Lang, I agree with you.
The saddest thing for me of the entire Bush regime (so far) has been watching the United States of America squander its reputation as a beacon of human rights and the rule of law.
Most Americans can’t know about this reputation, you have to have grown up in another country from which you watched day to day the titanic struggle that was the Cold War. Even Vietnam did not seriously dent America’s reputation.
To put it another way, it’s a bit like discovering that your favorite Uncle, or Pastor, or school teacher, who you always loved, admired and respected, is actually a pederast.
I absolutely understand that what follows is not worth very much. It was, indeed, long ago and it what almost seems like a foreign county, definitely a different time. When I was being trained in interrogation skills for the Army CIC in ’55 there was a clear emphasis on what was legitimate, what worked, what tended not to and what was torture and therefore excluded. “Obeying orders’ was firly excluded as a reason for breaking the orders on interrogations. What a hell of a long way we’ve come and not in a good direction.
Sir. Good to see you bring this up again. I would like to add that this whole torture-gulag-rendition business is not just stupid, it is irrational. 40 years of “White Hat” propaganda-effort thrown out the window. Even for those of us who remember School of Americas and the cattleprods, the US has publicly stood for the good values. All of that has been thrown away. I think the coming regimeshift will be the US last chance to regain some honour. I hope Mrs. Clinton comes out and says clearly that she will close these shitholes down and show the prisoners of war some dignified treatment. “Treat your enemy better than he would treat you” is a good Norwegian saying, its true.
If some Democrats in positions happen to read this, heres a soundbite for ya. (If you use it, send me a small check, I could use it ;-):
“In an announcement today, presidential Hillary Clinton took a firm and strong stance against the authorised use of torture, illegal-combatant-status and secret detention of prisoners of war. “We do not win the war on terror by becoming the enemy” Clinton said in a unusally firm direct message. “This administration has dishonoured what America stands for” msrs Clinton concluded.
//cut to speech exerpt, Hillary looking right into the camera.//: “I do not believe in the politics of fear. I believe in a smart hardworking intelligent USA, where we fight our fights in a smart cool inteligent way. Where we dont torture. Where we dont give away money to our friends. Where we try to make things function. That is the America I believe in.” //applause, Hi-la-ry hi-la-ry
“The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept. This is called, using the conquered foe to augment one’s own strength.”
“In extremis, I might do something really beastly to someone to satisfy the needs of the “ticking bomb” fantasy scenario, but it would not be waterboarding, and I would want to know that it was not legal.”
PL, that’s why I read you. I may not agree politically on a lot of issues, but (usually) your position is reasonable, even if I disagree with it. In this case, you hit the nail on the head.
That statement is the crux of the matter. In the ticking time-bomb case, you do what you need to do, and take moral responsibility for it. You don’t ask for approval — you make a choice and live with it. You then defend yourself before your peers, and see if they agree that the situation was “exceptional” and what kind of leniency you should receive.
But you don’t claim that it “should be” legal, you don’t say “Well, a million may die, but I might go to jail”. You don’t say, “If there was just a bureaucratic infrastructure in place that would handle these once in a millennium events on a daily basis…”
Why do so many neo-cons assume that we are all sniveling little cowards? That if we weren’t given a blank check ahead of time, we wouldn’t do what is necessary to defend our families and then face the consequences? Maybe projection?
In January of 2006 I became so frustrated by the casual slide into torture that this new Empire of ours had allowed that I wrote a feature film screenplay called REVELATIONS. An independent political thriller about surveillance, interrogation, and torture in a small American town. In it, I have two “men in black suits” arrive at a small town police station to set up shop in the back room for a few days. Due to the daily hassles and pressures of their work, their mission creeps quickly from wiretapping to waterboarding. Our hero, a detective from this small town who initially feels thrilled to be part of this patriotic war, watches in horror as his principles are turned sadistically on their head. He pulls his weapon on the torturers, viscerally appalled by what they are doing, only to become hunted himself.
I was lucky (in a sense) to be introduced to a senior army intelligence officer who had previously run the interrogations for Baghram AFB in Afghanistan. He had personally sent people to Guantanamo. He told me he loved the script and “finally wanted to see someone get all the details right.” With his help I was able to get all those appalling details perfect. (For the record he said he never touched anyone and that the true professionals used a mixture of psychology and Neuro Linguistic Programming).
Then it was just a matter of fundraising $100,000 to get the movie made. For a time Amnesty International said they would make it an official project, but that fell through. I have an Oscar-winning producer in LA shopping it all around town, but we haven’t found any takers. Fortunately both REdacted and REnditions have come out, so fortunately there are no shortage of timely political thrillers that begin with the letters RE. But I am still terrified to live in a country where as many as 15,000 private contractors, in the words of my Army source, can run down the leads the FBI is too overburdened to investigate, and use brutal interrogation techniques, including torture, especially against those who are not American citizens. I still feel strongly about getting this film made. Apparently the issue isn’t going away any time soon. Anyone who would like to read the script is welcome to do so at http://www.blackhelicopterfilms.com.
And Colonel Lang, I do not mean this to be any sort of self-promotion. I apologize if it seems like it is.
This week I listened to caller after caller telling a host on Boston’s WBZ that the US needs to do ‘whatever it takes’ to stop the “Islamo-fascists”. This was exactly what the host was propagating too.
If we merely change the term from Islamo-fascists to Jews we know what the means historically.
America is prying open that lid, day by day.
Pretty soon the top will fly off.
I like FDChief’s torture as terror analysis. At least it supports the theory that the policy makers and practitioners have some semblance of rationality, however twisted. They wouldn’t knowingly be futilely torturing for intelligence purposes. This might, in a dismal light, reflect to their intellectual credit, such as it is. Cold bloodedly, I’d find some comfort in the fact that at least they weren’t torturing because they ignorantly believe it produces good intel, or anything else, except terror. I mean, that would be real incompetence, whereas torturing for terror, aside from its’ innate immoral and criminal cast, would indicate at least some rational link between problem(lack of terror) with the solution – terrifying torture.
What is particularly disturbing to me if they are torturing for intel is the evident distinction between the Nazi/Resistance torture paradigm, and the one at work today. At least one might have some reasonable grounds to believe a foreign national, or resistance fighter in occupied territory during wartime, or a guy pulled off the NYC subway with a schematic of a dirty bomb and a garage door opener or other remote, was a likey repository of useful intel.
But I have read accounts that many swept up from their native Afghanistan – by foreigners seeking vengence for 911, rather than the local sovereign government during “regular” wartime as it were – and dispatched to Guantanamo or worse were simply victims of local rivals marking them as “terrorist” in exchange for $5000 bounties. Nice day’s work, two birds with one stone.
This lessens the chances that those swept up and tortured are actually AQ intel prizes. The lack of trials, or proven claims of gigantic plots avoided due to intel from the detainees, and a recent press account of one poor sap cleared by the FBI in Nov 2001 but “forgotten”, and just now released do nothing to support either the idea of some existential imperative justifying the whole scheme, or the utility of torture for intel itself. This is discouraging tactically, strategically and morally.
As for the in extremis example, I’d like to think most people would attempt to do the right thing contrary to all normal laws and mores if they were morally certain there was some extraordinary objectively manifest imperative and some rational connection of the cause – torture- to the effect – reliable in extremis intelligence mitigating catastrophic attack.
If only the people in power making these critical decisions were of the same intellectual and moral fibre as Pat and his and my father’s generational/experiential cohort, I would find some comfort in that. Instead we are presented with incompetence and criminality claiming unfettered power apparently immune to any corrective course. The contrast is simultaneously heartening and disheartening.
Thought experiment: Imagine that three American civilians are nabbed in Iran by the police who suspect the Americans of espionage. They’re held incommunicado for questioning. The US alleges torture. An Iranian spokesman replies, “The allegation is false. However, we have had to place them under stress. We are using methods commonly used by Americans: sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, and of course water boarding.” What does the U.S. say?
Well its now very obvious that we as a country have been torturing our captives, even though our CIC says we do not use these tactics.
What we have gained is very little, I know others will say we have been saved from many plots learned via these tactics. What we have lost is our dignity, something that will take a generation or two to regain. Yes, our fellow countries on earth will have something to toss in our face as by our governments actions we have joined fallen many.
Now, what is going on with our public servants to allow this to happen. Yes, I understand the concept that there is a line of Yes Men behind every naysayer but what kind of training have these people had to hide behind their skirts to allow this to happen. Oh yeh, shipping off the captive to a foreign country is tacit approval for the torture.
Please someone provide some hope that things are not as bad as they seem to be.
I have dealt with one victim of waterboarding as practiced by the National Police Field Force, RVN, in 1968. She remained in a coma while in the MPs’ custody –approximately 20-24 hours; I think I remember hearing she had admitted to having relatives who went to fight with the VC before she came in, or perhaps her neighbor said it, or the NPFF CO thought he wanted to use an excuse for some reason.
It’s torture and it shouldn’t be used, even through outsourced covert assets.
A few days ago, Evan Wallach, a former JAG officer who counseled MPs on the rules regarding prisoners, wrote an op-ed for the Post:
In it, he stated that it is a matter of both international and federal law that waterboarding is torture, and therefore illegal. That someone can be confirmed as AG without acknowledging that shows just how low we’ve sunk. I’ll quote from that article, although blockquotes don’t seem to work here:
I think it’s pretty clear what the legal issues are here. Mukasey just said what he did so he doesn’t have to prosecute half the Cabinet and start impeachment proceedings.
I am so disgusted that my Senator, Senator Feinstein supported Mukasey that I have decided to become an independent and I have been a Democrat for 40 years. It seems there is really no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. Is there no one we can look up to or admdire. I like Kuchinich, at least he is honest, that is more than I can say for the rest, Republican or Democrat.
In a previous post (Antro on Logic, 11/03), I wrote of Consequetialism as the moral justification for torture: the ends justify the means. The ends justify the means morality has several substantial criticisms, but, sophistry aside, torture is illegal in America, both by treaty and domestic law. Any discussion of using torture must first acknowledge it is criminal, and, in American or any modern civilized state, reprehensible. But, what was settled is now in back play by the tough guys and wordsmiths of this administration. And the argument of choice is the ticking time bomb scenario.
The ticking time bomb scenario is offered as a rationale (so far the only rationale) for torture, and is a classic “for the greater good” argument. But, the ticking bomb scenario is a highly specific, even fantastical thought experiment, suited more to the cheap, theatrical tastes of “24” then a serious justification for reprehensible, dishonorable conduct. However, the simplicity of the premise (school bus full of children, nuclear bomb in a big city, etc.) opens the door for a general consideration of torture as one more valuable tool in our anti-terrorism apron.
Witness how casually we now canvass millions of private conversations, both domestic and international, all based on the greater good argument that the potential of capturing one rare needle in a haystack makes up for violating any number of constitutional protections and established law. So, if torture produces the results we want, use it. So, if dragnets, indiscriminate extra-legal incarcerations, third degree police tactics produce the results we want, use them.
Eventually, what starts as uncommon, becomes commonplace.
The theme of the law sliding along the slippery entrails of the greater good and devolving into a nasty, stupid, brutish thuggery and sadism is well documented historically (Abu Ghraib and extra-ordinary rendition is just two recent examples) and represented broadly in literature, visual arts, theater and film.
The simpleminded police thugs in “Amarcord” (1973) by Federico Fellini are one example of the consequence of replacing the rule of law with the expediency of ends.
Sadism? Hardly need to explain the temptation here, but the following dialogue from Dr. Strangelove has an apt description of what the ticking time bomb mentality becomes when it becomes common:
General Jack D. Ripper: Were you ever a prisoner of war?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Well, yes I was, matter of fact, Jack, I was.
General Jack D. Ripper: Did they torture you?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Uh, yes they did. I was tortured by the Japanese, Jack, if you must know; not a pretty story.
General Jack D. Ripper: Well, what happened?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Oh, well, I don’t know, Jack, difficult to think of under these conditions; but, well, what happened was they got me on the old Rangoon-Ichinawa railway. I was laying train lines for the bloody Japanese puff-puff’s.
General Jack D. Ripper: No, I mean when they tortured you did you talk?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Ah, oh, no… well, I don’t think they wanted me to talk really. I don’t think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having a bit of fun, the swines. Strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras.
“Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964)
We need to stop the excuses and get back to basic principles: America does not torture.
lie down w/ dogs, get up w/ fleas.
blind total support for Israeli NeoKons leads to crazy things like support for torture, recall of jets on the way to rescue the U.S.S. Liberty by LBJ so as not “embarass” an ally, invading a country like Irak that did not threaten us nor desired war w/ us.
Where does it stop? When our cherished core principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence and 14th Amendment are turned inside out.
Hooray for Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul!
I just got a hate chain email from a local goverment official saying we should boyott the Eid El Fitr Feast U.S. stamp, issued in honor of the Muslim lunar feast that closes the Ramadan fast. This is b/c Muslims are responsible for Beirut barracks bombing, 9/11, Irak, etc.
It reminded me of the Israeli body piercer I used to represent. He used to go around shouting “let’s kill all the Muslims” while dating a Jordanian Muslim woman. I used to tease him whether his girlfriend also needed to be killed. He said well an exception could be made for the women. She joined the U.S. Army and is now working as a translator in Irak.
I wonder if even she knows the difference between “Muslim terrorist” and “takfiri salafist.”
Legal Crimes offend laws of men which can be arbitrary and changeable, but stupidity is an offense against one’s or the nation’s own best interests. Failure to willingly further one’s own best interest is stupid and imbecilic.
wikipedia has the best take on the incident made famous by Tolstoy in his book War and Peace.
“The judicial murder of Enghien shocked the aristocrats of Europe, who still remembered the bloodletting of the Revolution and who lost whatever conditional respect they may have entertained for Napoleon. Either Antoine Boulay de la Meurthe (deputy from Meurthe in the Corps législatif) or Napoleon’s chief of police, Joseph Fouché, said about his execution, “It is more than a crime; it is a political fault.” (“C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute.”), a statement often rendered in English as “It was worse than a crime; it was a mistake.” The statement is also sometimes attributed to French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. ”
Ancedotely, the Duc and Bonaparte discovered themselves both sleeping with a certain Mdme Georges causing animosity.
“In extremis, I might do something really beastly to someone to satisfy the needs of the “ticking bomb” fantasy scenario, but it would not be waterboarding, and I would want to know that it was not legal.”
I’ve always thought this fantasy a bit unrealistic in the sense that terrorists that would know the whereabouts or timing of a “dirty” or “ticking bomb” would be committed enough to their cause that they would suffer loss of life before revealing the location and/or timing of detonation. Just a thought.
“When Hitler said that he hoped for the day when it would be considered a disgrace in Germany to be a jurist he spoke with great consistency of his dream of a perfect bureaucracy.” (Hannah Arendt, 2003, “Responsibility and Judgment,” 58)
President Bush is not Hitler. But, apparently he too hopes for the perfect bureaucracy. One, in which, administrators are reduced to mere functionaries of government policy. Mindless loyal drones implement the leader’s will without legal or moral restraint. The presence of courts, judges, juries, and due process are superfluous in such a bureaucracy. The necessity of charging and bringing to trial individuals for specific offenses disappears along with the individuals. In effect, we have a dual system of justice: one for crimes against society, one for crimes against the state, one open, one closed, one with rights, one without, one subject to the principle of equality before the law, one subject to the principle hate my enemies. The individuals subjected to “enhanced” treatment bear collective responsibility for what are individual criminal acts. Likewise, the perpetrators of the “enhanced” treatment of prisoners bear collective responsibility for executing government policy. Arendt notes that where everyone is responsible, no one is accountable.
President Bush, with congressional support, holds an immense population collectively responsible for the tragic and criminal acts of a small group. He also places the responsibility for his decisions to act outside of moral, legal, and constitutional boundaries onto the American people at large. Where everyone is responsible, he is not accountable. The confirmation of Mr. Mukasey is just the latest manifestation of the perfect bureaucracy. So, as Michael Murray suggests, this is not a mistake, this entire shameful episode is deliberate, pervasive, and widely embraced within the halls of government and by significant numbers of the general population.
The only way to get past this illegal behavior is to indict individuals for their actions. The “ticking bomb” scenario, redefinition of torture, quaintness of the Geneva Conventions, and other misleading abstractions fall away from the reality of specific charges against named individuals for specific actions. The reaffirmation of personal accountability would be a salutary close to three decades of presidential misconduct and congressional indifference.
PHILIPPE SANDS: Let me put it in yet another way. Could you imagine any circumstances in which the use of water boarding on an American national by a foreign intelligence service could be justified?
JOHN BELLINGER: One would have to apply the facts to the law, the law to the facts, to determine whether any technique, whatever it happened to be, would cause severe physical pain or suffering.
SANDS: So you’re willing to exclude any American going to the international criminal court under any circumstances, but you’re not able to exclude the possibility of water boarding being used on a United States national by foreign intelligence service? I mean, that just strikes me as very curious.
BELLINGER: Well, I’m not willing to include it or exclude it.
note: john bellinger is the legal adviser to the secretary of state. from his posted dos bio, he appears to have no prior military experience; although he is the beneficiary of an elite education.
People like me are given to rational thinking and moderation in action. That’s what the word “professional” implies.
Bravo, Colonel Lang, entirely correct.
Torture is unique in that it fails the test of professionalism at multiple levels. At the most immediate level, it is unprofessional simply because it fails to deliver results of adequate reliability.
But then at larger and more distant levels, it is unprofessional in that it sabotages the larger ends to which the means are being employed.
Victory is often a function of the recruitment of valuable, trustworthy allies. Torture alienates many who might otherwise be thus recruited — leaving the torturers only a pool of potential allies who are untroubled by the practice, or who have been bought, or who have themselves been under coercion. Such allegiances have seldom been of either durability or utility.
Decency is a force multiplier. Honor is a weapon whose lack of a blade detracts not at all from its power. Dignity lends the enterprise a moral force which can sustain the effort even when circumstances become difficult.
Torture has no such beneficial sequelae of any sort.
Where is the original of the stained glass image that you head the column with??
Editorial, Nature, May 2002, Volume 40, Number 5, Pages 212
“The World Medical Association (Declaration of Tokyo) defines torture as `The deliberate, systematic or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons, acting alone or on the orders of any authority, to force another person to yield information, to make a confession, or for any other reason’. Although torture may be defined as pain inflicted by one human being on another, it is most often regarded as an aspect of legal systems or of repression by the state.
“Torture has a long and dishonourable history from ancient cultures (including Egyptians, Persians, Greeks and Romans) up to the 18th Century. By the second half of the 18th Century, torture was abolished over most of Europe. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) stated `The whole subject is now one of only historical interest as far as Europe is concerned’. Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany demonstrated otherwise and Amnesty International now estimates that about one third of current political regimes use torture on a regular basis.”
see also in the same issue:
A Moreno & M A Grodin: “Torture and its neurological sequelae” at http://www.nature.com/sc/journal/v40/n5/full/3101284a.html
Avnery on Yassin?
I have read Mr. Nance’s article on smallwarsjournal and I found the discussion following it telling.
You find all the arguments in there. A recurring apologist theme was that waterboarding is ok, because these animals deserve no better. The accusation was that those who are against waterboarding have sympathy for the enemy. Utter nonsense. What these people don’t get is that they confuse and treatment of prisoners and intelligence gathering with punishment.
I found some of the IMO clearest replies came from one guy named ‘CWO Wright (ret)’ toward the end of the page.
This “Torture Debate” is so ironic in that I am hearing from some very virulent Anti-Communists on this subject and it is amazing to me how in this “Debate” they are now embracing their Inner-Stalin.
Perhaps ironic isn’t the right word? How about horrifying!
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The Shah of Iran employed torturers; they were usually recruited from the dredges of society and truly & thoroughly enjoyed infliciting pain and sufferring on their betters – usually Middle Class intellectuals or learned men of Islam.
My understanding was that they had been trained by Americans in torture methods.
I very very strongly caution you against following in that path; it will not make US safer – it will only corrode you on the inside as you have to employ Evil in trying to achieve your aims.
You are mistaken. It was not necessary to teach Persians how to torture. pl
You are entitled.
The Bush admin’s push for waterboarding has ZERO to do with terrorism, intelligence, or information gathering. It’s been proven to be counterproductive at best.
It’s really ALL about asserting executive power in the GWOT. The White House wants the power to interpret the law, enforce the law, and create the law. They want no-holds-barred executive power, and they don’t want Congress, courts, laws, or human decency to stand in the way.
That’s the only possible conclusion that makes sense to me as to why they refuse to back down on this issue.
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