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Thread: Former President George W. Bush: We waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed,

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    Re: Former President George W. Bush: We waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed,

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    Is your objection to "torture" based on the argument that its not useful or that it's morally wrong? Or both?


    Both. There is more than one reason to oppose torture.

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    Re: Former President George W. Bush: We waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed,

    Quote Originally Posted by Gina View Post
    Even if presented as unlikely and as a basis for discussion, I don't believe "the ticking time bomb" a reasonable hypothetical. Hypothetical arguments are most useful when there is some possibility of the situation in question actually being played out.
    Gina,

    As I said, a hypothetical involving nineteen AQ operatives hijacking four jetliners and flying them into the WTC and Pentagon would have been laughed at prior to 9/11. Such a hypothetical would've failed to meet your subjective criteria of "likelihood" but it happened nonetheless. Reality does not always conform to our subjective expectations of what is likely to occur.

    And the point of this particular hypothetical is to subject our moral presuppositions to scrutiny. If torture is morally justifiable under a certain circumstance, then it is morally justifiable under similar circumstances.

    Given the nature of most responses from either side, a firm moral belief one way or another about torture, is the determining factor, not the scenario.

    Those of us who see torture as morally reprehensible would not under any circumstances approve of it.
    Yet you would approve of killing the enemy? Why do you arbitrarily distinguish between killing and torture? If a soldier can send a lead projectile through the enemy's head, then why it is morally reprehensible to subject that same enemy to simulated drowning?

    And what about collateral damage? President Obama has ordered predator drone strikes on high level AQ operatives, causing the deaths of innocent non-combatants in the process. Do you also condemn these acts?

    Many of those who would waterboard, don't believe it's torture, hence they have no problem with it. Even if they agree, it is torture, the nature of the person to be tortured is the justification, not the situation rendering the ticking time bomb is immaterial.

    "Nebulous moral sentiment"? It's the law. We don't torture. As has been said in this thread already, our country has prosecuted people for waterboarding. The law is not a "nebulous moral sentiment", though morality is basis of it. As it is with all laws.
    No one has made an appeal to law thus far (correct me if I'm wrong). It seems their primary concern has been the moral valuation being made in regards to torture, which is why I chose to address that valuation.

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    Re: Former President George W. Bush: We waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed,

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    If after capturing our troops, the Taliban/AQ provided them with medical assistance, brought them before a CSRT, gave them a chance to challenge their status as detainees, provided them with counsel, and just generally treated them as humanely as we treat our detainees, then I can't say I'd be outraged.
    What does this have to do with torture? Nothing. But I will bite.

    I wouldn't consider Abu Ghraib humane. Nor Guantanamo Bay.
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    Re: Former President George W. Bush: We waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed,

    Quote Originally Posted by Boo Radley View Post
    No, I think you're wrong about that. The problems with torture are well documented. It is very good at getting confessions, but not so good at getting information. Gina above is correct that the ticking time bomb senario simply wouldn't ever really exist. To have the right person, with exactly the right iinformation, at exactly the right time is too much to ever expect. Instead, you're likely to have the wrong person who will say something to get you to stop and you will go chasing your tail, wasting time and effort. And we do have one example of misinformation that was costly, see al Libi and run up to the Iraq war.

    Now, over the years I have posted a lot on torture, and a lot is written, but todays search provides this:

    But what does the scientific literature say? A 2006 Intelligence Science Board flatly noted that there was no data supporting the claim that torture produces reliable results. The 372-page report would be summed up by this passage: “The scientific community has never established that coercive interrogation methods are an effective means of obtaining reliable intelligence information. In essence, there seems to be an unsubstantiated assumption that ‘compliance’ carries the same connotation as ‘meaningful cooperation.’ ” In other words, waterboard someone or smack his head against the wall, and sure enough, he’ll open up and talk. But does that mean you’ll get reliable info that you couldn’t have gotten using more conventional techniques? Absolutely not. Dick Cheney insisted that two CIA analytical reports (that he apparently pressed to have prepared) concluded that his torture techniques rendered positive results. But these reports were declassified and published, and lo, they don’t say what he claimed they do.

    Torture Doesn

    By contrast, it is easy to find experienced U.S. officers who argue precisely the opposite. Meet, for example, retired Air Force Col. John Rothrock, who, as a young captain, headed a combat interrogation team in Vietnam. More than once he was faced with a ticking time-bomb scenario: a captured Vietcong guerrilla who knew of plans to kill Americans. What was done in such cases was "not nice," he says. "But we did not physically abuse them." Rothrock used psychology, the shock of capture and of the unexpected. Once, he let a prisoner see a wounded comrade die. Yet -- as he remembers saying to the "desperate and honorable officers" who wanted him to move faster -- "if I take a Bunsen burner to the guy's genitals, he's going to tell you just about anything," which would be pointless. Rothrock, who is no squishy liberal, says that he doesn't know "any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this is a good idea."

    Or listen to Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who conducted interrogations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq during Desert Storm, and who was sent by the Pentagon in 2003 -- long before Abu Ghraib -- to assess interrogations in Iraq. Aside from its immorality and its illegality, says Herrington, torture is simply "not a good way to get information." In his experience, nine out of 10 people can be persuaded to talk with no "stress methods" at all, let alone cruel and unusual ones. Asked whether that would be true of religiously motivated fanatics, he says that the "batting average" might be lower: "perhaps six out of ten." And if you beat up the remaining four? "They'll just tell you anything to get you to stop."

    The Torture Myth (washingtonpost.com)

    An excerpt from the full document, which can be downloaded here:

    The requirement to obtain information from an uncooperative source as quickly as possible -- in time to prevent, for example, an impending terrorist attack that could result in loss of life -- has been forwarded as a compelling argument for the use of torture. Conceptually, proponents envision the application of torture as a means to expedite the exploitation process. In essence, physical and/or psychological duress are viewed as an alternative to the more time consuming conventional interrogation process. The error inherent in this line of thinking is the assumption that, through torture, the interrogator can extract reliable and accurate intelligence. History and a consideration of human behavior would appear to refute this assumption. (NOTE: The application of physical and or psychological duress will likely result in physical compliance. Additionally, prisoners may answer and/or comply as a result of threats of torture. However, the reliability and accuracy information must be questioned.)


    2002 military memo: CIA tactics "torture," ineffective - War Room - Salon.com

    Despite fearful anecdotal claims, the effectiveness of torture in generating intelligence is questionable at best. But we do know that torture produces many false confessions and new enemies, and distracts from more effective, legitimate techniques of interrogation and intelligence-gathering. We also know that democracies that have turned to torture in counterinsurgency – for example, the French in Algeria – have lost, while the British found a solution in Northern Ireland after they gave up abusive tactics.

    Torture doesn't work / The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com

    This is just a few trhat any search will yeild, not to mention many good books on the subject that can't really be linked here for review. The litature is very clear on this.
    Boo,

    You seem to be refuting an argument I never made, i.e., torture is always the "most effective way" at obtaining actionable intelligence. I believe the "most effective way" to obtain actionable intelligence is situational, a fact your studies and articles implicitly confirm with statements like this...

    "In his experience, nine out of 10 people can be persuaded to talk with no "stress methods" at all, let alone cruel and unusual ones."

    Nine of out ten times torture won't be necessary or even effective, but what about the other one out of ten times? Simply give up?

    The fact that the "most effective way" is situational means we shouldn't arbitrarily limit our intelligence operatives' options. If they reach a consensus amongst themselves that "torture" in a specific instance or situation is the "most effective way", then we should defer to their expert assessment.

    I'm not saying we should torture everyone we capture. I'm just saying it should be an option.

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    Re: Former President George W. Bush: We waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed,

    "We think we've come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches it's all ancient history. Then - before you can blink an eye - suddenly it threatens to start all over again." - Captain Picard



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    Re: Former President George W. Bush: We waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed,

    Quote Originally Posted by alms View Post
    Boo,

    You seem to be refuting an argument I never made, i.e., torture is always the "most effective way" at obtaining actionable intelligence. I believe the "most effective way" to obtain actionable intelligence is situational, a fact your studies and articles implicitly confirm with statements like this...

    "In his experience, nine out of 10 people can be persuaded to talk with no "stress methods" at all, let alone cruel and unusual ones."

    Nine of out ten times torture won't be necessary or even effective, but what about the other one out of ten times? Simply give up?

    The fact that the "most effective way" is situational means we shouldn't arbitrarily limit our intelligence operatives' options. If they reach a consensus amongst themselves that "torture" in a specific instance or situation is the "most effective way", then we should defer to their expert assessment.

    I'm not saying we should torture everyone person we capture. I'm just saying it should be an option.
    Actually no. A stopped clock is right twice a day, but you wouldn't argue it works. At any time, you might get something, but that wouldn't make it effective. Nor does it mean you wouldn't get the same intel, or better with another method. The problems associated with torture, misinformation, and the mroal strain, make something so ineffective as it has proven to be, not worth using. If it is wrong nine times, and we use that wrong intel, as we have (see al Libib), getting it right once wouldn't be enough to make it valid.

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    Re: Former President George W. Bush: We waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed,

    If the U.S. wants to torture people, then it should just be up front about it. You don't see countries like China or Russia apologizing for torturing people. The U.S. signed the Geneva Convention and then has done its best to run workarounds to the various amendments, like having detainees outside of its jurisdiction, or redefining the status of detainees in the face of international law.

    I personally don't condone torture, but the realist in me knows the way that governments have always behaved. We can act like we're above it and quibble over definitions, but the fact is, cruel and unusual implements were used. Who knows what else has happened outside of the jurisdiction of Geneva. Is the U.S. so concerned about its image these days anyway? I mean, why quibble over minutiae? You treated prisoners like **** in order to gain intelligence. Now I ask: so what?

    Is the illusion that the U.S. is somehow above it all so important?

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    Re: Former President George W. Bush: We waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed,

    Quote Originally Posted by Boo Radley View Post
    According to the US government, waterboarding is torture.
    The U.S. and U.N. definition of torture is subjective.

    We have prosecuted civilians and people in our military for using waterboarding in the past.
    Not the same type of waterboarding, the Japanese were prosecuted for forcing people to swallow water until their stomach descended and then beating the descended stomachs. IIRC the Sheriff who was prosecuted was not prosecuted for waterboarding but for corruption and no one can provide original source material (IE a case summary) involving the alleged prosecution of a soldier in Vietnam who supposedly was convicted for torture because he waterboarded someone.

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    Re: Former President George W. Bush: We waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed,

    Quote Originally Posted by Middleground View Post
    What does this have to do with torture? Nothing. But I will bite.
    My apologies, I left "if they used waterboarding in the same fashion we did" off of the end. Didn't make much sense without it.

    I wouldn't consider Abu Ghraib humane. Nor Guantanamo Bay.
    Abu Ghraib was a disaster because of policy breakdowns and individual malfeasance, not because we were trying to turn it into what it was. Gitmo is run perfectly fine.
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    Re: Former President George W. Bush: We waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed,

    Quote Originally Posted by Orion View Post
    If the U.S. wants to torture people, then it should just be up front about it. You don't see countries like China or Russia apologizing for torturing people. The U.S. signed the Geneva Convention and then has done its best to run workarounds to the various amendments, like having detainees outside of its jurisdiction, or redefining the status of detainees in the face of international law.
    We didn't redefine the status of anyone they never fell with in the category of protected persons as defined by the Geneva Conventions themselves.

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