May 21st, 2009

Guantanamo Bay: Establishment of Empire


photo credit: stublog

The military prison established at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is once again in the news, with Congress rejecting Obama’s proposal to close up shop. As usual, observing the arguments on both sides of the aisle has become an exercise in maddening frustration and sheer stupidity. And of course, that means I have an opinion to share.

Guantanamo bay has become the hallmark of the American empire. One cannot think of its presence without being reminded of the federal government’s use of extra-Constitutional loopholes to do unto others that which we would never want done to our own. Its existence is a stain on our already-soiled standard of liberty. But it remains active—despite few protests to the contrary—to allow the government to circumvent and/or deny due process, habeas corpus, and every pillar of liberty to restrain a tyrannical government.

Platitudes aside, there are few principled politicians willing enough to make the moral argument for terminating such operations abroad. Even Obama’s eloquent orations should be put in proper context: until he and others argue for closing Kandahar, Bagram, and all other black-ops sequestration sites, the words ring hollow and the action resembles little more than a public relations stunt. The issue is not Guantanamo itself; so long as we kidnap people on the streets, fly them away to remote locations, and torture (yes, torture) them, America’s stated goal to spread democracy and freedom is little more than a thin veneer of hypocrisy and sleight of hand.

For many (including Utah’s own Rep. Jason Chaffetz), closing Guantanamo is a nightmare scenario of sending boogie men into their own neighborhoods, risking the lives of innocent Americans. This irrational fear seem to be the proposed justification for maintaining prison facilities in remote locations outside our borders, far away from any civilian. Rep. Chaffetz’s reasoning is as follows:

Guantanamo Bay has natural geographic barriers which keep detainees far from American civilians. The remote location also provides a necessary barrier against anyone who may wish to do harm to detainees—or attempt to set them free.

And so the facility is excused since it keeps them from us and us from them. But if our own prison system is good enough for mass murderers, rapists, and sociopaths, isn’t it good enough for innocent, brown-skinned Muslims?

Oops, what?

That’s right: out of 775 total detainees to be sent to Guantanamo, only 245 currently remain. 420 have been released without being charged for any crime—sent packing with nary an apology or compensation. And thus far only three (three!) individuals have been charged with a crime:

  • David Hicks was found guilty under retrospective legislation introduced in 2006 of providing material support to terrorists in 2001.
  • Salim Hamdan took a job as chauffeur driving Osama bin Laden.
  • Ali al-Bahlul made a video celebrating the attack on the USS Cole (DDG-67).

And so, the fruits of this imperial institution are the successful prosecution of a guy who donated some money or supplies, a car driver, and a videographer. Pat yourself on the back, America! When looking at the facts it becomes clear that the argument for keeping detainees far from America falls flat on its face; the drunk gang member in the local county jail is far more a threat to me than a guy picked up off the street half a world away by a bounty hunter.

And lastly, Rep. Chaffetz’s letter to Obama further justifies the existence and use of this prison by discussing some of the prisoners’ perks: movies, books, food, and time for prayer. But all of this matters little, since the fundamental issue is being swept under the carpet: we as a country are depriving others (the vast majority of whom are apparently innocent, since only 0.00387% of them have been convicted) of their liberty. Spare me the pleasantries about how well-treated these people are. Until we start affording these people their God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then our own become cheapened.

Guantanamo and its sister sites are not necessary, helpful, nor moral. America should clean up after its own mess, and that means imprisoning people within our own borders. We should either charge people or release them, and afford them due process for challenging the government’s accusations against them. And we should immediately and fully raze every last vestige of empire, of which Guantanamo stands only as a very recognizable part.

82 Responses to “Guantanamo Bay: Establishment of Empire”

  1. Jeffrey
    May 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm #

    Bravo, Connor, bravo. I think this issue right here is a crucial distinguishing feature between someone who truly loves liberty, and a neocon who merely talks the ideas.

  2. Amber
    May 21, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    Wow, Connor – I don’t read too often because I am usually looking for “light” reading. Because I don’t read often, I don’t know a lot about your political views so don’t take it wrong when I say that I expected a different opinion from you. I will echo jeffrey “bravo”. I am disgusted by the lack of backbone in our politicians to deal with this situation.
    “But if our own prison system is good enough for mass murderers, rapists, and sociopaths, isn’t it good enough for innocent, brown-skinned Muslims?” And even if they aren’t innocent – why why why are people trying to scare me with the idea of terrorists on our soil. I’m tired of people continually preaching fear.
    Let’s defend liberty – our own and other people’s. The ends do not justify the means!
    Thanks for the post – I whole-heartedly agree.

  3. Chris
    May 21, 2009 at 7:50 pm #

    One cannot think of its presence without being reminded of the federal government’s use of extra-Constitutional loopholes to do unto others that which we would never want done to our own.

    Hmm… All the EIT’s have and are still being used on our own troops. Go ask any Special Forces member and water boarding is a normal part of the survival & evasion training. I haven’t heard you nor any liberal shouting from the rooftops how we are torturing our own troops. Admittedly I pick and choose which blogs I read but I don’t I missed it. Also, water boarding was a hazing exercise at the Virginia Military Academy for decades. It is of course something that should be used very rarely but it is not torture. As a side note I hope that you don’t consider a caterpillar is torture do you? (That is an intended sarcastic question).

    We as a country are depriving others (the vast majority of whom are apparently innocent, since only 0.00387% of them have been convicted) of their liberty.

    As you stated many were “innocent” even though a report today that 1 in 7 returns to terrorism after being released so your numbers are misleading. I’ll expand on this a little later. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/us/politics/21gitmo.html

    And so the facility is excused since it keeps them from us and us from them. But if our own prison system is good enough for mass murderers, rapists, and sociopaths, isn’t it good enough for innocent, brown-skinned Muslims?

    There is a huge difference between a rapist and a murderer and a terrorist. One is that a terrorist doesn’t plan on living in most occasions through his crime while the robber does. But the biggest difference is that most terrorists aren’t American citizens. As a strict constitutionalist I am surprised that you’d apply the US Constitution to non-citizens. The Preamble of the Constitution specifically states that the document is meant for “We the People of the United States…” not the world. Should we be enforcing the Bill of Rights on other countries and their citizens as well? I know that is not what you are implying but that is what your belief leads to. If some portions of the US Constitution apply to foreigners not residing in the USA then why not all of it? Now obviously to avoid you taking me out of context or nit picking my statement, that doesn’t mean we can just imprison non-citizens for any reason but it does mean that our Constitution doesn’t apply to non-citizens. Common sense international law should apply which by the way we have followed in most cases but have done some regrettable things especially just after 9/11. Also, today’s news of the three home grown terrorists that converted to radical Islam in prison should also rule out imprisoning them in the USA. Even though they would most likely be under be in isolation they will still be allowed an hour of “free time” where they couldn’t interact with other prisoners and most likely convert some of them to their radical views and become an even greater threat to our security.

    We should either charge people or release them, and afford them due process for challenging the government’s accusations against them.

    Ever heard of Miranda rights? I doubt that they were read to any captured person so any and every judge would have to immediately throw out the case because of this. So to charge them with anything in civilian courts would be a joke and according to the law will be immediately dismissed. I do think they should be able to challenge the government’s claims against them but within the military tribunal system. Most of the detainees cannot and will never be charged because it is a war and not a police action. If it was a police action then you’d have a case but we are fighting it or at least we should be fighting it as a war so habeas corpus and the like do not apply to enemy combatants. When have we ever given Constitutional rights to captured soldiers?

    In my opinion we have two options. Keep the status quo and try them in military tribunals ASAP which we are doing a horrible job of or declare them prisoners of war and then according to every legal and historical precedence we can hold them until the war is over.

  4. Kelly W.
    May 21, 2009 at 8:34 pm #

    Mitt Romney supports Cheney’s Guantanamo prison.

    Mitt also supported gay marriage, but he repented.

    Mitt’s own written response to Guantanamo is to be found here: http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ODEzZDFmZjE0ZWU5ZDY4NDQ2MjI5NGZmZjhkYTUyMjY=

  5. Connor
    May 21, 2009 at 9:36 pm #

    Chris,

    Hmm… All the EIT’s have and are still being used on our own troops. Go ask any Special Forces member and water boarding is a normal part of the survival & evasion training.

    Well, sure. But voluntarily doing it as preparation for what might happen if captured by an enemy is different from wanting it to be done to our troops. Our armed forces are not prisoners of war, and are not innocent bystanders picked off the street. Training to resist torture is different than condoning it.

    And many of those who have been waterboarded admit that it is indeed torture. Whoops! Take, for example, an instructor from the SERE school you referenced:

    As a former master instructor and chief of training at the U.S. Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, I know the waterboard personally and intimately. Our staff was required to undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception.

    I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school’s interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques employed by the Army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What is less frequently reported is that our training was designed to show how an evil totalitarian enemy would use torture at the slightest whim.

    Having been subjected to this technique, I can say: It is risky but not entirely dangerous when applied in training for a very short period. However, when performed on an unsuspecting prisoner, waterboarding is a torture technique – without a doubt. There is no way to sugarcoat it.

    Also, water boarding was a hazing exercise at the Virginia Military Academy for decades. It is of course something that should be used very rarely but it is not torture.

    Um, the Virginia Military Academy disagrees:

    False reports have been circulating on some talk television and radio programs and on the Internet alleging that cadets are routinely waterboarded at VMI as part of a “ritualized hazing.” These false accusations are apparently being made to justify the practice of waterboarding suspected terrorists, now banned by the President.

    VMI does not waterboard anyone, nor can we find any reference in our records that such a practice has ever occurred here. Some reports are specifically alleging that George C. Marshall, a graduate of VMI’s Class of 1901 and arguably one of the greatest soldiers America has produced, was waterboarded when he was a cadet. We have found no reference in our records or in the voluminous biographical information about General Marshall that he was ever subjected to waterboarding.

    In their first months at VMI, cadets experience the Rat Line. This is a very tough period, both physically and mentally. The Rat Line at VMI today is a carefully calibrated experience that is professionally run. It does not include waterboarding, and it cannot be equated with hazing.

    These allegations are not appropriate to the reputation of General Marshall or the Virginia Military Institute.

    As you stated many were “innocent” even though a report today that 1 in 7 returns to terrorism after being released so your numbers are misleading.

    What, and so we should keep them in prison and deny all their liberties based on what they might do the in the future? This is America, not the “Minority Report”.

    There is a huge difference between a rapist and a murderer and a terrorist. One is that a terrorist doesn’t plan on living in most occasions through his crime while the robber does.

    This is a dangerous principle upon which to base prosecution and incarceration of a detainee. Motive can only be adequately ascertained in a court of law. To assume that all terrorists don’t care about their life, and that we can thus treat them differently, is not the proper role of a military prison system.

    But the biggest difference is that most terrorists aren’t American citizens. As a strict constitutionalist I am surprised that you’d apply the US Constitution to non-citizens. The Preamble of the Constitution specifically states that the document is meant for “We the People of the United States…” not the world.

    The Constitution is a document which describes the powers of the federal government, not the people. It limits and restrains what the federal government can do. Or do you really think that the President can do whatever he wishes to a non-citizen and be fully and legally justified?

    Further, from an LDS perspective, the Constitution was instituted for all people/mankind. To limit its scope as you are attempting to do is to deny its principles for all who are not citizens of this country. That’s dangerous, and entirely out of line with the intent of the document.

    Even though they would most likely be under be in isolation they will still be allowed an hour of “free time” where they couldn’t interact with other prisoners and most likely convert some of them to their radical views and become an even greater threat to our security.

    The Department of Homeland Security thinks I’m dangerous. Should it be responsible for regulating who I associate with in order to prevent me from interacting with other citizens and converting some of them to my radical views? Hmmm…

    In my opinion we have two options. Keep the status quo and try them in military tribunals ASAP which we are doing a horrible job of or declare them prisoners of war and then according to every legal and historical precedence we can hold them until the war is over.

    Regarding your latter point: We have not declared war, and there is no final military objective. So if we implement that plan, that means that since 99.9% of the people being indefinitely detained are innocent, that we’re depriving thousands of people of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to make ourselves feel safe. Nice one.

  6. Chris
    May 22, 2009 at 12:40 am #

    Well, sure. But voluntarily doing it as preparation for what might happen if captured by an enemy is different from wanting it to be done to our troops. Our armed forces are not prisoners of war, and are not innocent bystanders picked off the street. Training to resist torture is different than condoning it.
    I wouldn’t say that they do it “voluntarily” but that is a cheap shot on my part. To restate my point so you can comment on it. If water boarding is torture then we should never do it anywhere for any reason. We have and are doing it on our troops. If it is torture then it always has been torture then to not be outraged at its use no matter the reason should be equally reprehensible and it shouldn’t matter the circumstances or on whom it is performed.
    And many of those who have been waterboarded admit that it is indeed torture. Whoops! Take, for example, an instructor from the SERE school you referenced:
    Interesting article but just because one guy says it doesn’t mean his word is law. Especially after reading this guys views continued to observe and perform water boarding’s even though he thinks it is torture. He did clarify that it is only torture when it is done on “an unsuspecting prisoner.” Now that we have released of interrogation techniques then all future prisoners will know what is coming so does that mean it is no longer torture? It seems like a pretty shaky explanation to me. I take it as a well informed opinion from a guy who knows a lot but it is hardly the last word on the subject because many disagree with him.

    Um, the Virginia Military Academy disagrees:
    Interesting. The thing about hazing is that it is done in secret anyway from the eyes of those in power. Just like fraternity hazing they don’t advertise what they do so this official statement though might be true is not necessarily true. The marines have outlawed hazing but we all know they exist in one form or another. VMI also outlaws hazing but it continues anyway. As interesting as it this statement maybe would you except anything less from a official statement from the VMI?

    What, and so we should keep them in prison and deny all their liberties based on what they might do the in the future? This is America, not the “Minority Report”.
    If you go and check what I was responding to then my comment makes sense. You claimed that “.00387%” were convicted and I proved that 1/7 released returned to terrorism which I’d say is an admission of guilt. That factored in with the problems as I stated about prosecuting the people at Gitmo means that your number though technically true is oversimplified and misleading.

    This is a dangerous principle upon which to base prosecution and incarceration of a detainee. Motive can only be adequately ascertained in a court of law. To assume that all terrorists don’t care about their life, and that we can thus treat them differently, is not the proper role of a military prison system.
    It is the policy of all law enforcement to treat different criminals differently. A child rapist is treated a lot different than every other criminal. A Charles Manson type person is treated differently than a bank robber. We sentence some criminals to probation, others to jail, and some to prison all depending on their crime and motives. My comment that we should treat terrorists different than other criminals only makes sense to me. The normal terrorist belief is that they don’t care about their lives and will die for jihad to get their virgins is correct but I guess I can’t say that all believe that.

    The Constitution is a document which describes the powers of the federal government, not the people. It limits and restrains what the federal government can do. Or do you really think that the President can do whatever he wishes to a non-citizen and be fully and legally justified?
    I agree to the first and if you read back my paragraph I predicted your criticism of my statement. I already addressed your question by preempting it so please refer back to my first comment and please stop nit picking things and stay to the main point. If you believe I am guilty of the same thing then feel free to ask the same of me.

    Further, from an LDS perspective, the Constitution was instituted for all people/mankind. To limit its scope as you are attempting to do is to deny its principles for all who are not citizens of this country. That’s dangerous, and entirely out of line with the intent of the document.
    Of course it was but now you are guilty of what you and other libertarians accuse conservatives of. The crime of imposing our views, ideals, etc on others, though the recent conservative way is unfortunate and at times disastrous while yours is cleverer but now less insidious. Not everyone wants to live under our system of government or with equal rights for women etc. I could easily nitpick the “intent of the document” but we both know what it was meant to do and what they had to do on a temporary basis for the greater good. Now again you can easily get distracted by nitpicking this but I’d prefer you argue by not very eloquent main point please.

    The Department of Homeland Security thinks I’m dangerous. Should it be responsible for regulating who I associate with in order to prevent me from interacting with other citizens and converting some of them to my radical views? Hmmm…
    I don’t see how this statement addresses my comment. Of course I don’t believe the government should regulate you unless you are promoting violence. Which is what the terrorists would do if put into a prison and allowed to promote their hate to other prisoners. You were not the only one accused of being dangerous though you qualified for more of the list than I did.

    Regarding your latter point: We have not declared war, and there is no final military objective. So if we implement that plan, that means that since 99.9% of the people being indefinitely detained are innocent, that we’re depriving thousands of people of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to make ourselves feel safe. Nice one.
    Just because we have not declared war does not mean we are not at war. It just means we are fighting it as a small war as we have the majority of wars in our history. I already know your views on that so you don’t need to tell me but nonetheless we are at war. The final military objective though vague has been the same for years. When the Iraqi’s and Afghani’s can protect and police themselves we will leave, (hopefully). The 99.9% number I have already refuted and you didn’t counter how we could prosecute any detainee on which your number is based, because we didn’t capture them in accordance to the normal police rules, Miranda rights etc. In war we hold the POW’s until the war is over that is how it works but according to the Geneva Conventions terrorists are not covered which is an entirely different discussion. As with all criticism you need to have an alternative in order to justly criticize the status quo. So what would you do with the Uyghur’s (Chinese) and what about the people we can’t release because they are dangerous but can’t try in court?

  7. ldsliberty
    May 22, 2009 at 6:26 am #

    Those responsible for the use of “enhanced interrogation” upon individuals who had not violated the rights of others should be held accountable for their crimes. How anybody could have ever believed it was OK to set up a base in Cuba to do this dirty work because it was outside of the borders of the US is beyond belief. Principles don’t end at the borders – they apply everywhere and throughout time. We need to close Guantanamo, try those individuals who we have a case against and then seek proper restitution for the rights that have been violated, and set the rest of the individuals free. Joseph Smith and other early members of the LDS church were unjustly imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Fortunately they were never waterboarded. So, why do so many members of our church support, or at least sit idly by, the unjust imprisonment and torture people of another faith? All are equal in the eyes of God – no matter what your beliefs are.

  8. Carissa
    May 22, 2009 at 7:20 am #

    Great post Connor!

    The Preamble of the Constitution specifically states that the document is meant for “We the People of the United States…” not the world.

    Correct. But read the Declaration of Independence. You cannot claim that INALIENABLE RIGHTS only exist for American citizens. If you make this claim, you do not understand the concept or you do not believe it. These basic rights are inherent to all mankind. They are to be protected (not granted) by earthly governments. We have no business denying anyone their inalienable rights just because they are not citizens of OUR country.

  9. loquaciousmomma
    May 22, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    Chris:

    You say that torture is torture no matter who it is inflicted on, or by whom it is inflicted. I ask you to honestly consider whether you would rather be waterboarded by a member of our own military or by an enemy.

    In a training exercise you know that your “torturer” is going to be held accountable if he kills you. It is not in his best interest to kill you anyway, as his job is to train you not hurt you. The prisoners being waterboarded by the US don’t have that same reassurance. The whole purpose of the exercise is to so terrify them that they will answer whatever questions they are being asked. A very different situation entirely.

    As for the credibility of Connor’s quote from the SERE instructor, how about Jesse Ventura? He went through the SERE training and says it IS torture. He also confirmed what I had heard and understood about waterboarding- that it is a technique that you use to make people say what you want them to, not to get true confessions. A person will say almost anything if they are subjected to simulated drowning, just to make it stop.

    As for the one in seven who “return to terrorism”…wouldn’t you be more angry and willing to fight and bring down a government that held you captive for years, tortured and abused you? Guantanamo Bay is making terrorists, not stopping them.

    What has been done in our name is wrong, plain and simple. Let’s just hope that we are never subjected to such techniques as our government has used on others.

  10. David
    May 22, 2009 at 8:02 am #

    Right on Connor. I hope to see the day when the vast majority of Americans recognize how damning it is for our government to act on the belief that it is possible to do bad things for good purposes.

    While your position is exactly what I have come to expect from you I did find it interesting to notice that 3 guilty out of 775 detained at Guantanamo is a similar ratio as 1 in danger of abuse out of over 400 children rounded up from the FLDS in Texas last year. Government overreach and abuse of rights looks similar whether it is military overreach against terrorists or “law enforcement” overreach against polygamists.

  11. Carissa
    May 22, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    When my husband returned from SERE school, he came back with a sort of “glorification” for Hanns Scharff and his interrogation techniques (that is where he first learned about him). I believe the Army still teaches that these methods are much more effective in extracting information than physical coercion. The recent use, then, of more controversial methods is a bit puzzling to me. I suppose it has been rationalized that “there was no time” and “the stakes were just too high” to abide by the proven techniques. Have we considered, though, the long term effects of abandoning our “higher ground” position? I believe we may come to regret it.

  12. Connor
    May 22, 2009 at 8:18 am #

    Chris,

    I wouldn’t say that they do it “voluntarily”…

    Nobody is forcing them to be in the armed services. When they signed on the dotted line, they voluntarily agreed to participate in what was required of them in their line of duty.

    If water boarding is torture then we should never do it anywhere for any reason.

    As loquaciousmomma explained, there is a difference between using a method in training and torture.

    Interesting article but just because one guy says it doesn’t mean his word is law.

    Sure, but this guy has a lot more credibility than you do. To so easily cast aside the informed and experienced opinion of an instructor from the very school you earlier referenced seems a bit odd.

    Now that we have released of interrogation techniques then all future prisoners will know what is coming so does that mean it is no longer torture?

    So you’re arguing that a prisoner with a wild imagination, who can think of all sorts of things his captors might do to him, would never qualify as an “unsuspecting” prisoner, simply because he has an idea of what all might be dong to him? I seriously doubt that the instructor was saying that waterboarding is only torture when the person has no idea what waterboarding is.

    As interesting as it this statement maybe would you except anything less from a official statement from the VMI?

    I would expect the truth. And if there were any proven allegations that had been reported and investigated, I’m confident that VMI would reference them, apologize, and make further efforts to prevent it from happening again. But you’re asking others to prove a negative. You assume that surely hazing must exist, and so any denials to the contrary are false. Without evidence, yours is simply and unfounded accusation based on a rumor.

    You claimed that “.00387%” were convicted and I proved that 1/7 released returned to terrorism which I’d say is an admission of guilt.

    Good proof, citing a NY Times article. :) And future actions is hardly an admission of previous guilt. As loquaciousmomma also said, one very easy reason for future terrorist action is retaliation against former captors and current occupiers. I’ve mentioned it before, but I honestly think that people in your position are wholly incapable of applying the golden rule. But let’s try anyway…

    Imagine that you’ve been whisked off of the streets and accused of aiding terrorists in your country. Your family has no idea where you are, and soon give you up for dead. Your business falls apart in your absence, and your friends soon forget you. Meanwhile, you sit in a prison cell on the other side of the world, unjustly imprisoned and with no method of recourse or communication with the outside world.

    Finally, after eight years, for whatever reason you are released and sent home. You have received no apology, no compensation, and no reason for your detainment. Wouldn’t you be pissed off? I sure would. Whether or not this justifies “terrorist” action against our military in their country is another issue. But you can’t release an innocent prisoner after several years and expect him to be your best friend. Seriously.

    My comment that we should treat terrorists different than other criminals only makes sense to me.

    Sure, beef up security. I have no problem with that (other than the fact that the vast majority are completely innocent, so it’s a bit pointless). But the original point was that it is unnecessary to have the facilities located outside of our borders. My point remains valid, regardless of how many fences you want to put around them.

    …if you read back my paragraph I predicted your criticism of my statement. I already addressed your question by preempting it so please refer back to my first comment and please stop nit picking things and stay to the main point.

    You predicted it, but you did not rebut or answer it in any fashion. I await your response: should a President (or any other government official) be able to do whatever he pleases to any non-citizen? If not, where do you draw the line, and upon what basis?

    Of course it was but now you are guilty of what you and other libertarians accuse conservatives of. The crime of imposing our views, ideals, etc on others…

    Since when was it a crime to allow others to enjoy their God-given rights?

    I don’t see how this statement addresses my comment.

    Your point was that releasing terrorists into our domestic prison system would afford them an opportunity to share their ideas, religion, and values with other inmates, and possibly convert them. My counterpoint was that the government apparently considers my own ideas and values to be dangerous (what have we come to?!), so if your argument applies to them, then it of necessity applies to me.

    As with all criticism you need to have an alternative in order to justly criticize the status quo. So what would you do with the Uyghur’s (Chinese) and what about the people we can’t release because they are dangerous but can’t try in court?

    The Uyghur situation, from my understanding, is little more than a political move by communist China to suppress a dissenting faction that desires independence. Hmm, sounds familiar. As per the people that we “can’t” release, I refer you to the penultimate line of this post.

  13. Connor
    May 22, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    David,

    While your position is exactly what I have come to expect from you I did find it interesting to notice that 3 guilty out of 775 detained at Guantanamo is a similar ratio as 1 in danger of abuse out of over 400 children rounded up from the FLDS in Texas last year.

    I’m not sure if you recall, but I was very much against Texas’ actions regarding the FLDS as well.

  14. David
    May 22, 2009 at 8:33 am #

    I do recall – it’s one more area where we are in complete agreement. I wasn’t trying to suggest that you viewed them differently – only pointing out the connection that my brain made.

  15. Carborendum
    May 22, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    Connor,

    I don’t agree with your interpretation of D&C 101:77. It is meant to eventually spread througout the world. And at that point, it will protect all flesh.

    The interpretation you’ve placed upon it falls apart under this standard. We can’t promise the rights of the Constitution to citizens of other countries when they have none of the responsibilities that are required BY the Constitution.

    I’m really having difficulty with the idea that we afford full rights to non-citizens – especially enemy combatants. The right to due process isn’t something that we can apply to all men.

    You do have a point about those who were innocent (and let me be clear that NO ONE knows what percentage that was). But WE are not the ones on the ground in the middle of the fighting. Can we expect those in uniform to make split-second assessments of who is a combatant and who isn’t?

    Even if you at least give them that quarter, should they then be brought before a tribunal to determine if they are? Show me some evidence that we did that in WWII. You can argue the merits or lack thereof of the war. But until you can categorically state that we should not be in the Middle East at all, I can’t agree with these points you’re making.

    You have many high minded ideals that I DO AGREE WITH. But there are priorities and circumstances that call to duty.

    Can you honestly judge our military and our military prisons until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes? This is where I’m willing to give our military the benefit of the doubt. I don’t appreciate Monday morning quarter-backing. And I’ve seen just enough information from the men on the ground that maybe it isn’t as clear cut as we in the cheap seats may think.

    Because it is so distant, and so complex, I’m still withholding judgement. I’m not saying everything they did was right. But I’m not going to say those involved in these unsavory practices were all criminals either.

  16. Kelly W.
    May 22, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    Waterboarding used to be a crime. USA has successfully prosecuted people for doing it. When did it become legal? When everyone discovered “we” were doing it. Simply put, they got caught.

    Here’s an article from the Washington Post, of which I have cut and pasted a segment. (follows)

    “As a result of such accounts, a number of Japanese prison-camp officers and guards were convicted of torture that clearly violated the laws of war. They were not the only defendants convicted in such cases. As far back as the U.S. occupation of the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish-American War, U.S. soldiers were court-martialed for using the “water cure” to question Filipino guerrillas.

    More recently, waterboarding cases have appeared in U.S. district courts. One was a civil action brought by several Filipinos seeking damages against the estate of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. The plaintiffs claimed they had been subjected to torture, including water torture. The court awarded $766 million in damages, noting in its findings that “the plaintiffs experienced human rights violations including, but not limited to . . . the water cure, where a cloth was placed over the detainee’s mouth and nose, and water producing a drowning sensation.”

    In 1983, federal prosecutors charged a Texas sheriff and three of his deputies with violating prisoners’ civil rights by forcing confessions. The complaint alleged that the officers conspired to “subject prisoners to a suffocating water torture ordeal in order to coerce confessions. This generally included the placement of a towel over the nose and mouth of the prisoner and the pouring of water in the towel until the prisoner began to move, jerk, or otherwise indicate that he was suffocating and/or drowning.”

    The four defendants were convicted, and the sheriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison.”

  17. Carborendum
    May 22, 2009 at 10:43 am #

    Carissa,

    You make a good point about the inalienable rights. This is what we can agree on. But does that mean that ALL the rights we have in this country are guaranteed to ALL mankind? To me, this is a stretch.

    The fundamental rights, yes. But all the rights? No. Different rights for different levels of responsibility. What responsibilities do the citizens (combatants or not) of other countries have to the US? None.

    Give them all the rights but none of the responsibility? Sounds like you’re for illegal immigration.

  18. David
    May 22, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    Carborendum,

    There is a difference between full rights under the Constitution and honoring the God-given (inalienable) rights that are acknowledged in the Constitution. The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that the Constitution talks about were not manufactured by the founders – they are rights which belong to every person regardless of the existence of the Constitution and regardless of how ruthlessly we or anyone else chooses to abuse those rights.

    Other rights provided by the Constitution, such as the right to vote, and be treated to the protections of citizenship, are conditional based upon our adherence to the responsibilities (such as paying taxes). Those rights do not extend to those who break the law or who are not citizens – for example, the government has the right to deport non-citizens without cause unless it has granted to them a visa to be here. That does not mean that the government should in all cases, but it can so long as it does not infringe upon the universal rights.

    The rights of citizenship that we are supposed to enjoy are not yet available to citizens of every country, but it is our responsibility as a nation to honor the God-given rights of all people.

  19. Connor
    May 22, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    Carb,

    I don’t agree with your interpretation of D&C 101:77. It is meant to eventually spread througout the world. And at that point, it will protect all flesh.

    President Benson explained in this talk how the Constitution is for all men. Consider also a portion of this talk from President J. Reuben Clark:

    Having in mind what the Lord has said about the Constitution and its Framers, that the Constitution should be “established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh” ( D&C 101:77), that it was for the protection of the moral agency, free agency, God gave us, that its “principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind” ( D&C 98:5), all of which point to the destiny of the free government our Constitution provides, unless thrown away by the nations—having in mind all this, with its implications, speaking for myself, I declare that the divine sanction thus repeatedly given by the Lord himself to the Constitution of the United States as it came from the hands of the Framers with its coterminous Bill of Rights, makes of the principles of that document an integral part of my religious faith. It is a revelation from the Lord. I believe and reverence its God-inspired provisions. My faith, my knowledge, my testimony of the Restored Gospel, based on the divine principle of continuous revelation, compel me so to believe. Thus has the Lord approved of our political system, an approval, so far as I know, such as he has given to no other political system of any other people in the world since the time of Jesus.

    I am not arguing that every right codified in the Constitution should be extended to non-citizens. What I am saying is that the principles enshrined therein and the restraints placed upon the federal government should be extended to its interactions with everybody, anywhere.

    The interpretation you’ve placed upon it falls apart under this standard. We can’t promise the rights of the Constitution to citizens of other countries when they have none of the responsibilities that are required BY the Constitution.

    I agree that rights and responsibilities are inseparably connected. But you need to make sure to draw a distinction between inalienable rights and positive government bestowals of freedom and money. Your comment to Carissa about illegal immigration conflates these two.

    I’m really having difficulty with the idea that we afford full rights to non-citizens – especially enemy combatants. The right to due process isn’t something that we can apply to all men.

    You’re right. But it is something we can apply to all men that are imprisoned by the federal government created and governed by the Constitution.

    Can we expect those in uniform to make split-second assessments of who is a combatant and who isn’t?

    Surely not. But justice demands processing these people far, far, far more quickly than we currently are. Get them in, get them screened, and then if you can’t charge them with anything, release them immediately.

    Can you honestly judge our military and our military prisons until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes?

    I honestly don’t see why not. This is often an argument made by the warmongers: “I’ve been over there. I know what it’s like!” But the military follows the policies enacted by civilian authority, even though in our day this seems to have been reversed to some degree. One need not fight in the Iraqi invasion to opine on its moral foundation. One need not experience torture to oppose it. And one need not visit Guantanamo to understand its importance (or lack thereof).

    Can you honestly judge our military and our military prisons until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes? This is where I’m willing to give our military the benefit of the doubt. I don’t appreciate Monday morning quarter-backing. And I’ve seen just enough information from the men on the ground that maybe it isn’t as clear cut as we in the cheap seats may think.

    What’s clear is principle. Jesse Ventura made a good point about the recent Nancy Pelosi CIA hullabaloo: none of it would even be up for discussion had we not been torturing people to begin with! While those in the military do indeed have a far better understanding of the particulars of combat, few seem to understand the principles. That’s what is important here, and it is something that can be scrutinized and opined upon by anybody, regardless of affiliation with or experience in active warfare.

  20. Carborendum
    May 22, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    David,

    See my comment to Carissa.

    Connor:

    One need not fight in the Iraqi invasion to opine on its moral foundation

    Maybe not fight in it. But I believe one needs to have all the data first. You seem to be all for giving due process to the prisoners. But you’ve already passed judgement on the military without giving them due process.

    I’m willing to admit that in the end you may be right. I know you do a heck of a lot more research than I do. But can you say that you have all the fact or even sufficient to pass sentence on the military/CIA if you were a juror in their trial? I know I don’t. And I’m guessing you don’t either.

    Without sufficient information, shouldn’t you at least give a benefit of the doubt to those who’ve sworn to protect your rights until you GET all the facts? Isn’t that what due process is?

    I’m just complaining against the court of public opinion allowing people to pass judgement all the while crying out for due process.

    REGARDING RIGHTS:

    As Connor somewhat outlined, there is a difference between the inalienable rights given us by our Creator and our Constitutional rights granted us by the government. I agree with the idea that we as a country, as individuals, and as government officers should respect the fundamental (read God-Given) rights of all men within our power.

    It is the other rights that I question. The right to a trial for instance is not a God-Given right, but a manufactured method that we as a people have come up with for determining guilt or innocence. This is manufactured. It is by no means fool-proof. Sure, we try to be fair, but have you read recent articles on how many people have been released from prison due to DNA evidence?

    Another example: Cruel and Unusual punishment. I don’t know about you, but when I hear about the most perverse and brutal murders that even Hollywood couldn’t conjure up, I want to cry out for blood. I want the crimminals to SUFFER even as their victims suffered.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that for non-citizens, in extreme circumstances, perhaps torture should NOT be taken off the table. Perhaps, with sufficient cause, it is justified. I’m just throwing this out there, so I haven’t really come up with any details, but what are your thoughts?

  21. Carborendum
    May 22, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Connor,

    The two talks you mentioned don’t address the concern I had at all. What was your point?

  22. Connor
    May 22, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    Maybe not fight in it. But I believe one needs to have all the data first. You seem to be all for giving due process to the prisoners. But you’ve already passed judgement on the military without giving them due process.

    In most scenarios I would agree that one would need all the facts before coming to a conclusion. However, with certain moral evils I believe that one does not need to research every nook and cranny before forming an opinion. To me, torture is one of those things. It is wrong, and no amount of apology and justification on the government’s part will do much to convince me otherwise.

    Another aspect you are indirectly introducing is the fact that the government (especially in military operations) is very secretive. They go to great lengths to get trials thrown out based on the “privilege” of “state secrets”, refuse to admit evidence that would exonerate others (or incriminate themselves), and keep as few people as possible in the loop. So in this type of environment, and according to your logic presented here, can one ever come to any conclusions whatsoever about any government action? If we don’t have all the facts—and indeed, will never have them—do we have any right or reason to comment?

    The right to a trial for instance is not a God-Given right, but a manufactured method that we as a people have come up with for determining guilt or innocence.

    And yet the fundamental and inalienable rights of life and liberty are denied when we lock people up and throw away the key after terming them an “enemy combatant”. Whether it’s a trial or discharge, respecting the rights each person inherently has requires that we do something with those whom we have accused.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that for non-citizens, in extreme circumstances, perhaps torture should NOT be taken off the table. Perhaps, with sufficient cause, it is justified. I’m just throwing this out there, so I haven’t really come up with any details, but what are your thoughts?

    From my studies, I believe torture should be taken off the table completely. First, according to the golden rule, it is not something we should be advocating since it is not something we would want done to our prisoners. Second, I have seen no compelling examples (other than government-produced stories which should almost always be read through a lens of fiction and Orwellian doublespeak) demonstrating that torture has consistently produced concrete and reliable evidence. And lastly, torture is a prime example of situational ethics—something that I believe every principled person should reject outright.

    The two talks you mentioned don’t address the concern I had at all. What was your point?

    My point was that my understanding of Doctrine and Covenants 101:77 with which you seem to disagree is that the principles found in the Constitution (and not perhaps the nitty gritty details afforded those living under its umbrella) are indeed for all mankind—at the present time, not some distant utopian future.

  23. Carissa
    May 22, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    But does that mean that ALL the rights we have in this country are guaranteed to ALL mankind?

    Certainly not. That would be confusing natural rights with legal rights (or legal “entitlements”- of which there are far too many). As far as I understand it, the inalienable rights (the ones that should be universally respected- regardless of one’s citizenship) mostly fall into the category of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

    Understandably, there is much debate over what these terms actually mean and how they play out. I still have much to learn on the subject but when in doubt, I’d side with the golden rule and treat people the way I’d hope to be treated were I in their shoes.

    If I were suspected to be a criminal and detained, I would want fair evidence presented against me as soon as possible. I would want the chance to present my side of the story. Whether this would translate into a “trial by jury” or “due process” or a legal pronouncement of “innocent until proven guilty” is not as important as the principle behind it. Does that make sense? The respect, the fairness. Just basic decency, really.

  24. Carissa
    May 22, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

    perhaps torture should NOT be taken off the table. Perhaps, with sufficient cause, it is justified

    Are you, then, willing to say that another country may be justified in using the technique against our troops as well? What about our country using it on it’s own citizens (with sufficient cause, of course)? No double standard I hope.

  25. Carborendum
    May 22, 2009 at 1:55 pm #

    Are you, then, willing to say that another country may be justified . . .

    Whether they are justified or not, it happens. And it won’t make them treat us better, if we treat them better. Surely the golden rule is a great principle. But I see the fringes of it as tarnished silver.

    If I’m a criminal or a terrorist bent on destroying America, I would want to be able anything and get away with it. In fact, I would also want to be able to torture others who disagreed with me, without their ability to torture me. That is how I would want to be treated were I a terrorist. But I myself am not going to treat them that way. It would violate still greater moral principles (like justice).

    Connor,

    Unless I’m being really dense here, the talks you linked to did not state specifically that the Constitution is to be applied to every individual on Earth TODAY. Instead, I see those talks as I would the salt of the Earth metaphor.

    1) The Principles of the Declaration and the Structure of the Constitution have freed the human mind in America.
    2) Because of that freedom, we have made tremendous advances in technology.
    3) Because of that freedom, we have grown to be a mighty nation.
    4) Because of our freedoms and the fact that America is good, we have become a beacon to the world.

    I believe you would agree with these assertions. So, I’ll ask the converse of these statements.

    1) By having the Declaration and Constitution in America, did that free up the human mind in the entire world? Only through osmosis.
    2) Because of our freedoms, have other countries made huge leaps in technology? Most of the time, it was stolen from Americans, or it was at least due to our leading the way that others thought of certain advances.
    3) Because of our freedoms, have others grown to be mighty? That would kind of defeat the purpose.
    4) Because of our freedoms, has the rest of the world tried to follow and become a beacon for still other nations? If you hear what goes on in the U.N., no.

    Now, I go back to Sun Tzu. He said that enemy combatants are to be captured, treated well, and released. This is with the idea that the enemy will more likely surrender next time. This is the common guess. He never actually expounded on this. I’ve often wondered if there were other reasons for this guideline.

    Since this issue has come up, I wonder if he would say the same thing about an enemy that is so hell bent on destroying us that they do suicide bombings of civilians as an offensive tactic.

  26. Doug Bayless
    May 22, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    Wow! What a great post and discussion! Connor, as always, I really appreciate your diligent research and perspective-enlarging context.

    A couple of links might be relevant to the discussion at hand . . . this month a human rights group released copious documentation suggesting dozens of known deaths at the hands of US interrogation procedures. Detainee Deaths — John Bybee may have done his best to suggest ‘reasonable and legal’ … ahem … ‘enhanced interrogation’ but the resultant paradigm shift resulted in actual practices that involved things a lot more dicey than caterpillars in a box.

    Furthermore, I agree with what Carissa said her husband suggested — many ‘boots on the ground’ such as Matthew Alexander and Ali Soufan have gone on-record to say that interrogation methods which do not violate our values are actually proven to be more effective — even with the specific prisoners that all this hulabaloo is about

    For reasons both moral and pragmatic I hope and pray that our strange and short-sighted ‘paradigm shifts’ during the Bush/Cheney administration are reversed back towards moral ground that God can bless us for. :)

  27. Tim Harper
    May 22, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

    We have some GREAT deserts out here in Utah. That would be a GREAT place to keep terrorists. I don’t get what everyone is afraid of.

  28. Carissa
    May 22, 2009 at 2:52 pm #

    That is how I would want to be treated were I a terrorist

    Oh, come on now. You’re perverting the concept of the golden rule.

    Wherever it is found and however it is expressed, the Golden Rule encompasses the moral code of the kingdom of God. It forbids interference by one with the rights of another. It is equally binding upon nations, associations, and individuals. With compassion and forbearance, it replaces the retaliatory reactions of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”

    This concept of treating others as one would like to be treated is easy to understand. And it acknowledges the precious nature of each of God’s sons and daughters.

    You avoided my question. I am sincerely curious to hear your answer.

  29. Connor
    May 22, 2009 at 3:46 pm #

    But I myself am not going to treat them that way. It would violate still greater moral principles (like justice).

    Justice (much less the golden rule) is not pre-emptively doing unto others what you think they’ll do unto you and your countrymen.

  30. Carborendum
    May 22, 2009 at 3:54 pm #

    Of course I perverted it somewhat. Like I said,”The fringes”. I’m trying to get across the idea that when we “play by the rules” (and our rules are very strict) and others have no rules, it is a no win situation for us. Remember the last Batman movie? It took the entire city and a superhero to subvert one terrorist simply because the good guys had rules and the bad guy had none. Yes, it was just a story. But it shows a bit of reality when you consider a huge force who has to abide by strict rules, and a few who have no rules.

    Isn’t this the war version of what freedom is supposed to do in the first place? We have freedom and are allowed to enjoy the fruits of our labor. This takes us further in ingenuity and development than we had gone in 5000 years.

    Imagine if a the most powerful military in the world has no rules when considering how to treat the enemy. We would win every encounter with much less loss of American blood. Then consider how tied our hands were in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, The “bridge too far”. Both extremes were tested with our marines and the Barbary Pirates. See how that panned out?

    We need to ask ourselves what rules are we willing to break under extreme circumstances. Killing another human being should be among the most horrific things imaginable. But we are willing to do so UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. Connor can talk about rejecting situational ethics. But the fact is that ALL principles that we have power over can be violated with justification under the right conditions.

    To say you ARE willing to KILL in a war but you are NOT willing to DENY due process during a war tells me that maybe you’ve gotten your wires crossed. We’re getting to be a country that is TOO merciful when it comes to our military. Soon we will no longer be willing to kill in a war. Europe tried that pre-Hitler. That turned out beautifully.

    I wish I were wiser and could itemize every circumstance under which one is justified in breaking each and every rule. But I am not that wise. I can say that no matter what the principle, if God say to do it, you do it. Nephi was commanded to kill an unarmed, unconscious, basically defenseless man. Why? To save an entire nation.

    Might there not be SOME circumstance under which it would be acceptable to torture? To deny due process? To deny certain rights of our legal system? Perhaps to save an entire nation? After looking at the data, even Obama (no fan of the Bush administration) was willing to withhold pressing charges. (Or did he CHANGE again?).

    If the question you were accusing me of avoiding was about whether other countries were justified – I don’t think I was avoiding it. I was merely stating that it wasn’t all that important. I stated before that it must be “with sufficient cause”. Things like this certainly shouldn’t be done willy-nilly (I believe we had a discussion about this vis-à-vis secession). But if ANY party has enough evidence, enough cause, and sufficient factors pointing to it being the solution, then yes.

  31. Carissa
    May 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    it won’t make them treat us better, if we treat them better

    Carborendum- please read this link Doug provided. It is quite fascinating:

    It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in [Iraq] have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse.

  32. ajax
    May 22, 2009 at 4:45 pm #

    To add to the discussion, from today’s lewrockwell page:
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance172.html

  33. Chris
    May 22, 2009 at 5:44 pm #

    LDS Liberty,

    There is no relationship whatsoever to the persecution of Joseph Smith and that of our treatment of people in Gitmo. To assume that we are “torturing” them because of their faith is ridiculous and offensive to our military and the intelligence community. Where do you suggest we release the one’s we can’t try? As I am sure you know the numbers of countries opening their arms to welcome even the detainees not deemed a threat are few to non-existent.

    Loquaciousmomma,

    You say that torture is torture no matter who it is inflicted on, or by whom it is inflicted. I ask you to honestly consider whether you would rather be waterboarded by a member of our own military or by an enemy.
    Of course I’d rather be water boarded by an American but if you believe it is torture then the who, what, when, where, and why doesn’t matter. Torture is torture, the reasons and circumstances of the torture are meaningless. It is called consistency.

    The prisoners being waterboarded by the US don’t have that same reassurance. The whole purpose of the exercise is to so terrify them that they will answer whatever questions they are being asked. A very different situation entirely.
    That is why there is a doctor present at all times when water boarding is taken place. Again the why doesn’t matter. If I murder someone for fun or because that person murdered a love one it is still murder.

    As for the credibility of Connor’s quote from the SERE instructor, how about Jesse Ventura? He went through the SERE training and says it IS torture. He also confirmed what I had heard and understood about waterboarding- that it is a technique that you use to make people say what you want them to, not to get true confessions. A person will say almost anything if they are subjected to simulated drowning, just to make it stop.
    For every person you can find that have experienced water boarding and say it is torture I can find one that has the opposite opinion. Some of mine just happen to be friends. If water boarding, “torture” only got people to say what you want them to say when seeking information then why has torture existed for thousands of years? It has been used since the dawn of time to get information out of capture people for information. If it produced bad intelligence it wouldn’t be used other than to punish and for other sick reasons. Interrogating people to get them to confess to something is torture but that is not we are doing. We have only used water boarding to get information that by the way has saved thousands of lives. That is a huge difference.

    As for the one in seven who “return to terrorism”…wouldn’t you be more angry and willing to fight and bring down a government that held you captive for years, tortured and abused you? Guantanamo Bay is making terrorists, not stopping them.
    Yes but everyone that is captured and held by the West will claim they were mistreated. It is an Al-Qaeda tactic that has been found in many Al-Qaeda documents captured during the course of the War on Terror. Can you name one person who would be at home with his/her family instead of out on the jihad if Gitmo didn’t exist? That claim isn’t provable and is against everything stated by the terrorists. They use it as a PR to help break the will of the West to stop the war so they can accomplish their goals. They know it worked in Vietnam and many other places and they know it is the only chance they have of winning. Al-Qaeda, Hamas, etc. hated us and have attacked us many times longs before Gitmo existed so again your claim is false.

    What has been done in our name is wrong, plain and simple. Let’s just hope that we are never subjected to such techniques as our government has used on others.
    Seriously? Go pick up a history book about any war and then get back to me. If the worse our troops were subjected to was water boarding that would be cause for celebration!

  34. Chris
    May 22, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

    Connor,
    Nobody is forcing them to be in the armed services. When they signed on the dotted line, they voluntarily agreed to participate in what was required of them in their line of duty.
    I guess since I cheap shotted you, you a right to respond. I am sure you will agree that they didn’t agree to do everything that is “required” of them. They are certain moral and legal factors that should come into play as we learned from Nuremburg.

    As loquaciousmomma explained, there is a difference between using a method in training and torture.
    Nope. If I make my kid clean his room for doing something bad or to train him to be good the fact that he is cleaning his room is the same. The reasons don’t matter it is the action that matter.

    Sure, but this guy has a lot more credibility than you do. To so easily cast aside the informed and experienced opinion of an instructor from the very school you earlier referenced seems a bit odd.
    I don’t remember saying I had more credibility than this guy but thanks for putting words in my mouth. I didn’t dismiss his opinion I stated that it is his opinion, one of many and I am sure various and wide ranging opinions of other instructors. Again to throw back and forth people who have water boarded people and have been water boarded won’t solve anything because it is all opinion.

    So you’re arguing that a prisoner with a wild imagination, who can think of all sorts of things his captors might do to him, would never qualify as an “unsuspecting” prisoner, simply because he has an idea of what all might be dong to him? I seriously doubt that the instructor was saying that waterboarding is only torture when the person has no idea what waterboarding is.
    The guy you quoted stated that the difference between water boarding for training and for interrogation is a big one. “It is risky but not entirely dangerous when applied in training for a very short period. However, when performed on an unsuspecting prisoner, waterboarding is a torture technique – without a doubt.” So my point was now that all of our interrogation techniques have been made public no one can argue that they don’t know what is coming. When you are laid on your back with a blindfold and something over your mouth what else would they be preparing to do to you? The difference of “torture” and “training” as per Mr. Nance’s words is knowing.

    I would expect the truth. And if there were any proven allegations that had been reported and investigated, I’m confident that VMI would reference them, apologize, and make further efforts to prevent it from happening again. But you’re asking others to prove a negative. You assume that surely hazing must exist, and so any denials to the contrary are false. Without evidence, yours is simply and unfounded accusation based on a rumor.
    So you want a prestigious military academy to admit to something that is performed outsight their control and without their knowledge? The thing about hazing is that it is a secret and people don’t talk about because they would be considered as “rats” so to prove that it is being used isn’t likely but neither can you nor anyone prove that it doesn’t happen. Unless of course you are with every group of VMI students 24/7. The facts are hazing does happen at VMI and most if not all other military/fraternity institutions, but the official statement by the VMI is that the “rat race” or whatever it is called isn’t a hazing. Which of course it is depending on your definition of hazing. So to prove it either way is impossible and your case is as weak as mine.

    Good proof, citing a NY Times article.
    The fact that an anti-War on Terror supremely liberal newspaper has admitted this fact proves that it is true. Considering their many slanderous reports about McCain’s affair, violent crimes by veterans and dozens of others means that to publish something that doesn’t support their agenda must be true.

    And future actions is hardly an admission of previous guilt. As loquaciousmomma also said, one very easy reason for future terrorist action is retaliation against former captors and current occupiers. I’ve mentioned it before, but I honestly think that people in your position are wholly incapable of applying the golden rule. But let’s try anyway…
    True, but that still doesn’t make your percentage accurate when you consider the larger narrative. Just like I can’t prove that all terrorists have a death wish you can’t prove that the former detainees involvement in terrorism is in retaliation to their former captors and not a religious fanaticism that existed before their capture. If I was attempting to kill as many citizens of a foreign country as I could by any means necessary, with the end goal being destroying their country and in it’s place establishing an Islamic Theocracy and I was treated as bad as the worst terrorists in Gitmo I would be very thankful. I do appreciate the cheap shot though… ;)

    Finally, after eight years, for whatever reason you are released and sent home. You have received no apology, no compensation, and no reason for your detainment. Wouldn’t you be pissed off?
    I would be upset but that wouldn’t excuse my actions to kill innocent people. Most of the people that were later released were “innocent” but they wouldn’t have been renditioned or detained unless they were heavily suspected of terrorist ties. Or do you believe we just pick random people off the streets for fun? There are some mistakes in any law enforcementesque action and if found 100% innocent should get some kind of compensation but if they are later found to be involved in terrorism should be treated a lot harsher and not given the benefit of the doubt. It isn’t as black and white as you think it is Connor.

    Whether or not this justifies “terrorist” action against our military in their country is another issue.
    Are you seriously saying that some of the terrorists are justified in killing Coalition soldiers by using car bombs, use suicide bombers, some of which are mentally handicapped? I don’t think anything justifies those actions and to say that it is open to debate is a bit twisted to me.

    But you can’t release an innocent prisoner after several years and expect him to be your best friend. Seriously.
    Of course they aren’t going to be our “best friend” but it happens all the time. People that are wrongly imprisoned some of which sentenced to death and then later found innocent don’t go out and commit crimes because they were held wrongly for years. There is no excuse for purposely murdering civilians and for terrorism. NONE!

    But the original point was that it is unnecessary to have the facilities located outside of our borders. My point remains valid, regardless of how many fences you want to put around them.
    What is the difference? We should be following the same laws and rules on any base because US bases are considered US territory. Gitmo is an extremely secure base that already exists to hold these people. Why should we build a new prison to hold these “special” criminals when one already exists?

    You predicted it, but you did not rebut or answer it in any fashion. I await your response: should a President (or any other government official) be able to do whatever he pleases to any non-citizen? If not, where do you draw the line, and upon what basis?
    Yes I did, “Now obviously to avoid you taking me out of context or nit picking my statement, that doesn’t mean we can just imprison non-citizens for any reason but it does mean that our Constitution doesn’t apply to non-citizens. Common sense international law should apply which by the way we have followed in most cases but have done some regrettable things especially just after 9/11. So international law should be applied to non-citizens like the Geneva Conventions and the Human Rights agreements etc. If you are involved in terrorism then we have the right to seize you and/or kill you when and where we please if the host country agrees. If the host country is under sanction or in one form or another has forfeited its sovereignty then they have no rights in this area.

    Since when was it a crime to allow others to enjoy their God-given rights?
    Would it be better if the whole world lived under our Constitution? Of course. But there is a huge difference between God given rights and Constitutional rights. When have we ever given Constitutional rights to prisoners of war?
    Your point was that releasing terrorists into our domestic prison system would afford them an opportunity to share their ideas, religion, and values with other inmates, and possibly convert them. My counterpoint was that the government apparently considers my own ideas and values to be dangerous (what have we come to?!), so if your argument applies to them, then it of necessity applies to me.
    I understood your point but I still don’t see why saying that DOHS view on Ron Paul supporters addresses the idea that if terrorists are imprisoned in with other criminals that they’ll promote homegrown terrorists like what happened a day or two ago?

    The Uyghur situation, from my understanding, is little more than a political move by communist China to suppress a dissenting faction that desires independence. Hmm, sounds familiar. As per the people that we “can’t” release, I refer you to the penultimate line of this post.
    The Uyghurs from my understanding were captured in an Al-Qaeda training camp but are not guilty of any terrorism but aren’t nice people. The only country that will take them is China which will torture them and most likely kill them or at least imprison them for life. So what do we do with them? We can’t release them here nor anywhere else but we can’t continue to hold them either, so what would you recommend? This is one of many examples of how Gitmo is a very complicated matter and to say we should just close it is sugar coating the topic.

    From my studies, I believe torture should be taken off the table completely…
    I hate to say that the recently released CIA “torture” memos would contradict you and your first link. As would the last 4-5 CIA Directors, Obama’s National Intel Advisor (I think that is his title) FBI Director Mueller, and many others members of varying government and non-government agencies. As I mention in my reply to, loqua… if torture didn’t provide good intelligence why has it been used for thousands of years to get intelligence? Of course it also does make people lie to make the beatings etc. stop. Torture should not be used ever but water boarding and the other EIT’s are not torture and if our troops were treated as well we wouldn’t complain.

  35. Connor
    May 22, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    Chris, I’m ignoring your comments for the moment because not only are they a regurgitation of previous neocon, empire-loving comments you’ve made previously on this blog, but because I’m short on time at the moment.

    What I do want to post is a video from Rachel Maddow’s show highlighting the recent Obama speech regarding Guantanamo, the prolonged/indefinite detention of enemy combatants, and the Orwellian doublethink that permeates the entire affair:

    This is further evidence that Guantanamo and its legal justifications are a purposefully-crafted gray area of immorality, illegality, and deceit. Like Bush before him, and fluffy rhetoric aside, Obama is striving to create a system of militaristic autocracy where anybody’s rights can be stripped away and permanently denied, with no recourse made available.

  36. Chris
    May 22, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    Kelly,

    Waterboarding used to be a crime.
    Like in all things context is everything more in the next paragraph.
    Here’s an article from the Washington Post, of which I have cut and pasted a segment. (follows)
    There is a huge difference between water boarding a terrorist to save thousands of lives and water boarding people to punish or just inflict pain on them. The Japanese did it to inflict pain and their version of water boarding wasn’t even close to ours. They also water boarded civilians which is definitely against the law. The Japanese’s water boarding in many cases lead to death while ours hasn’t lead to any deaths. Their way was to inflict pain, ours is designed to frighten them to give up information to save lives, which it did.

  37. Kelly W.
    May 22, 2009 at 9:25 pm #

    I just watched a YouTube video of a radio talk show host being waterboarded. He did it to prove it WASN’T torture. He lasted 6 seconds and declared it to be torture. I would suggest you look up the YouTube clip. It was very informative. I will paste below the article about the incident:

    Right-Wing Radio Host Gets Waterboarded, and Lasts Six Seconds Before Saying It’s Torture
    By John Byrne, Raw Story
    Posted on May 22, 2009, Printed on May 22, 2009
    http://www.alternet.org/story/140205/

    Chicago radio host Erich “Mancow” Muller decided he’d get himself waterboarded to prove the technique wasn’t torture.

    It didn’t turn out that way. “Mancow,” in fact, lasted just six or seven seconds before crying foul. Apparently, the experience went pretty badly — “Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop,” according to NBC Chicago.

    “The average person can take this for 14 seconds,” Marine Sergeant Clay South told his audience before he was waterboarded on air. “He’s going to wiggle, he’s going to scream, he’s going to wish he never did this.”

    Mancow was set on a 7-foot long table with his legs elevated and his feet tied.

    “I wanted to prove it wasn’t torture,” Mancow said. “They cut off our heads, we put water on their face…I got voted to do this but I really thought ‘I’m going to laugh this off.’ ”

    The upshot? “It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that’s no joke,” Mancow told listeners. “It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back…It was instantaneous…and I don’t want to say this: absolutely torture.”

    “Absolutely. I mean that’s drowning,” he added later. “It is the feeling of drowning.”

    “If I knew it was gonna be this bad, I would not have done it,” he said.

    The 42-year-old radio host is no stranger to controversy. In 2005, he was maligned for saying that then-Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean was “vile,” “bloodthirsty,” “evil” and “should be kicked out of America.”

  38. Chris
    May 22, 2009 at 9:41 pm #

    Connor,

    Chris, I’m ignoring your comments for the moment because not only are they a regurgitation of previous neocon, empire-loving comments you’ve made previously on this blog, but because I’m short on time at the moment.
    So in your opinion not taking one person’s opinion or an official statement about a secretive act as gospel makes me an “empire loving” person? Please Connor, though my views are neocon on many things, doesn’t mean you don’t have to defend your blog against my very reasonable questions and disagreements. I bet you think that our Naval base in Bahrain which acts as the Central Command for the US 5th Fleet is part of our empire. But the fact that they pretty much begged us to station our ships there to protect them against their many threatening neighbors and even paid roughly $1 billion for the base wouldn’t jive with the normal/historical definition of an empire. For at least some of our oversea bases there are similar reasons for them but admittedly probably the majority would be consider a pseudo empire. The short on time thing I’ll give you. I am hoping you do get back to my comments because I do enjoy jousting with you and others as long as it stays civil which it has for the most part.

  39. loquaciousmomma
    May 22, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    Carb,

    I understand that the Nephi story can be seen as a justification for otherwise inexcusable acts in the name of saving lives. I would like to point you, however, to 3Nephi Chapter 3.

    The Gadianton robbers had threatened to wipe the Nephites off the face of the earth if they didn’t surrender or join them. The Nephites wanted to gather an army and go to the robbers’ territory in a “preemptive strike” fashion. Gidgiddoni, the prophet told them “The Lord forbid; for if we should go against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands”. Instead, he advised strengthening their resources and defending themselves against further attacks. This was even after receiving a threatening letter from the Gadianton robbers that let them know that an attack wasn’t just imminent, it was certain.

    Clearly, this shows that there are guidelines, boundaries which may not be crossed in the dealings of nations. Torture is one of them. If we are only to be on the defensive, and never on the offensive, then how can we justify something as offensive as torturing an enemy to get information? We are supposed to be the good guys. The difference between the good guys and the bad guys is that good guys refuse to lower themselves to evil methods to meet their goals. True good guys will refuse to lower their standards to win, no matter whether doing so appears to be the only way or not. If we are deserving of God’s assistance, then we will not need to do so to succeed. He will help us in our endeavors if we follow sound methods and seek his help. I do think that as soon as we violate principles, however, like Gidgiddoni said, we will lose God’s assistance and be delivered to the enemy.

    Chris,

    Your use of the Batman movie as an example saddened me. That movie was pure propaganda as far as I am concerned. The entire message seemed to be that the rules for the good guys are restrictive, since the bad guys follow no such rules. The writers did a nice job of setting up a situation in which the only way to win seemed to be violating principles. That movie left out a very important factor, however. Those of us who believe that God actually cares about and is involved in the affairs of nations, believe that when we follow the rules we will be assisted by Him. Saying that we need to rely on the same evil methods employed by communists, or other evil empires throughout history in order to succeed suggests to me a lack of faith in our country, or God’s willingness to sustain us.

    We are above those methods. You say that they have been used for thousands of years, and so must be useful. Even Napoleon found torture to be worthless at getting valid confessions. The quote is great “the barbarous custom of whipping men suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognised that this method of interrogation, by putting men to the torture, is useless. The wretches say whatever comes into their heads and whatever they think one wants to believe. Consequently, the Commander-in-Chief forbids the use of a method which is contrary to reason and humanity.”

    It is clear that you are determined to believe the things you have asserted here today. I would like to ask you, however, if you have ever stepped back and considered your positions from an outsiders vantage point? Have you looked at the situation with a truly open mind? Have you done research about torture, about our use of it? Have you really looked into this more than merely reading headlines, listening to talk radio, and other like minded sources? I challenge you to read the ‘other side’, and then reevaluate your current position.

    There is a lot of propaganda in television, movies, and especially on the radio. It is hard to know what is real and right from consuming media. A truly informed person these days will read several different points of view, and do serious research about important issue in order to sift through the garbage being fed to us as news.

    The Lord needs good strong minds like yours to defend what is right and good. I am convinced that with you and those like you on the Lord’s side, the future of our nation will be bright.

    The challenge is getting you to see the danger we have put ourselves in.

  40. Federal Farmer
    May 23, 2009 at 12:51 am #

    Connor, you are right to call “a spade a spade” and discuss Obama’s hypocritical tolerance of Bagram air base, while condemning Gitmo.

    I just can’t see how so many on the Left can overlook Bagram, Obama’s use of “state secrets,” the “preventive detention” plan, and the reestablishment of military commissions. How ironic that this president, who has defined his presidency by lambasting his predecessor, has time and time again, defended some of Bush’s most controversial national security decisions.

    As far as Gitmo is concerned, before closing the prison, I think it would be prudent to at least have a comprehensive plan for the future of the detainees (which Obama doesn’t have). Not to mention, if we are giving them access to US courts, that does provide for the possibility that if found innocent, they will be released inside the United States (especially now that most other nations reject them)… if the New York Times is correct, 1 in 7 Gitmo detainees returns to terrorism or “militant activity.” Devalue it all you want, I don’t want to be living next to those kind of odds.

  41. Doug Bayless
    May 23, 2009 at 1:32 am #

    Chris,

    You bring up the question of whether or not America’s empire of bases are [sometimes?] a good thing or not. I think it is a fascinating question.

    I noted with interest President Hinckley’s comment as he began his talk on “War and Peace” in April 2003 conference:

    We sometimes are prone to glorify the great empires of the past, such as the Ottoman Empire, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and in more recent times, the vast British Empire. But there is a darker side to every one of them. There is a grim and tragic overlay of brutal conquest, of subjugation, of repression, and an astronomical cost in life and treasure.

    It makes sense to me that at some point or another most major players in the global political arena are going to want the protection and alliance of the world’s largest superpower. Osama bin Laden rode to power that way. As did Saddam Hussein. And a great many other world leaders — both good and bad — court our favor each day. We often reward them with something that is indeed a twist on ancient Empires like the Roman or the Mongolian. But that doesn’t make it good, moral, or wise. Recent history is replete with examples of the U.S. supporting bad governments both monetarily and militarily in Faustian bargains that were deemed helpful to American political and economic ambitions. Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are just some examples of those corrupt, short-sighted, compromised, and morally ambiguous relationships bearing [surprise!] appropriately corrupt fruit.

    Granted, I don’t know as much about our dealings with Bahrain as I know about our dealings with the countries I did mention but I *do know* that I disagree with the entire concept of Pax Americana.

    It seems quite clear to me that the American Revolution was the Founding Fathers’ rejection of the notion of a benevolent ‘Pax Brittanica’ . . . the British Empire that they denounced with such clarity had all the same corruptions we seem to be rebuilding today — favoring the interests of large corporations (ie the British East Indian Trading Company) and the motherland’s economy at the expense of the common colonial peoples for instance — much as we do when we arm our “allied” dictators in the Middle East and protect the interests of the large oil multinationals at the expense of the common people who often inconveniently find themselves ‘collateral damage’.

    Reliable reports suggest that the one of the greatest strengths of U.S. controlled institutions like the IMF and the World Bank is the ability to push developing nations into debts that they can never re-pay and thereby force them into a situation where they can be easily ‘leaned on’ and pressured to support the aims, desires, and occasional ‘needs’ of the American diplomatic and commercial interests.

    At any rate, I don’t particularly care whether the type of ‘Empire’ the United States are colonizing out there fit previous ‘classical’ models. I have serious philosophical and moral objections against continuing in that direction.

  42. Carissa
    May 23, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    loquaciousmomma,

    What an insightful comment! I cannot express how much I agree with you that we need to make sure we are doing all we can as a nation and as individuals to be worthy of receiving the Lord’s help. When my husband is separated from our family serving in combat, what a blessing that would be. What a reassurance it would bring to me.

    Unfortunately, many Americans now seem to believe that were we to follow the course of strict defense only, it would not be good enough- it would leave us too vulnerable. How much more vulnerable will we be without God’s aid? As inhabitants of this land he has promised that if we look to him and keep his commandments he will help us fight our battles. Why do we not believe it anymore?

  43. Chris
    May 23, 2009 at 9:21 am #

    Loqua,

    I didn’t use the Batman movie example, I think that was Carb. I do think it is a good example of what we are struggling with today. Do we have to become like our enemy to defeat them? I don’t see any comparision that we have. For curiosity are you only against water boarding or are you against sleep deprevation, cold rooms, loud music, stress positions and the other EIT’s used?
    The Napoleon quote is interesting but I couldn’t find any source for when and where it was said which always bothers me. I’ll take it as true though becaues one quote doesn’t prove your point. I am sure you’ve seen Truth & Conviction. The documentary about Helmuth Huebener? The Gestapo tortured him and he gave up the names of his two friends. So torture did work in that case. So we are back to where we began. Torture does work some times and sometimes it doesn’t. If it never worked as you and others claim it wouldn’t be used to get information. In the cased of the Big 3 of Gitmo the EIT’s used stopped the “Second Wave” attack on LA and stopped the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge so it obviously worked in those cases as well.
    I thank you for the compliment and I do research my opinions very thoroughly and am always open to criticism which is why I choose from time to time to post on Connor’s blog. I am not close minded as some here would believe. I just haven’t been convinced that my opinions are not reasonable.

  44. Carborendum
    May 23, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    CARISSA:

    I read the article. While interesting, it isn’t very convincing. I say this because it seemed to have the exact same tone and logic as a parenting article which I read where an author still seemed to be whining because his parents spanked him as a child. (WARNING: Thread-Jack Possibility Present).

    In short I concluded the following:
    1) He gave his opinions. But he presented some opinions (like the one you quoted) as fact. I’m always wary when someone does that.
    2) He is only one witness. And we should listen to what he has to say. But we weigh it in the presence of other witnesses.

    CONNOR:

    I am stunned, amazed, awed, pleased, and a bunch of other emotions I don’t have the vocabulary to describe that such a commentary on Obama should be broadcast on MSNBC.

    I’d like to keep an eye on this newscaster to see if she gets fired or has other disciplinary action taken against her. When is her regular broadcast time and station?

    MOMMA:

    That was ME who used the Batman analogy. You say you were saddened since it was just propaganda? I’d check out a bit more about Chris Nolan before you pass judgment on him.

    1) It came out during the Bush era.
    2) If propaganda, it was in FAVOR of Bush era tactics.
    3) He is a liberal.
    4) Chris Nolan gave an interview that would shed some light on his motivation for the film. This and other interviews I’ve read indicate it really was just a comic book movie. It wasn’t intended as any kind of political commentary. It WAS intended as a commentary on society, crime, & chaos in general.

    An interesting commentary on crime and society was why he was called the DARK KNIGHT: He’s not the hero we need, but the one we deserve.

    Maybe this war is not being waged by the representatives and front-line men we need. But these are the ones we chose as a people through our elections, choices in society, the formation of our national morality of multi-culturalism (which essentially means we have no morality).

    I re-read 3NE3 at your suggestion. While I understand your point that anyone can justify anything, you didn’t read my qualifiers. In the end it really depends on motivation and judgment. Giddianhi wasn’t even TRYING to do the right thing. He KNEW he was lying. His motivations were all selfish.

    You and others here seem to hold these high ideals as absolutes. This could make you fall into the trap of the ancient Jews straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel. The weightier matters of the law are judgment, mercy, & faith.

    I’m asking you to withhold judgment because you probably don’t have all the facts. You say you don’t need them, because you already know. That sounds like you really considered it.

    When we talk of mercy, we consider those who deserve it. Again judgment comes to play. We as outsiders cannot know who deserved it or not.

    When we talk of faith, I’m asking for two things:
    1) Give the benefit of the doubt in matters of judgment to some in our military who otherwise deserve our respect.
    2) Pray for our enemies, even if they are our government. Ask the Lord to provide the protection that we may not be able to provide ourselves because of the rules we must abide by.

    What rules? When do we bend them? When do we break them? These are matters of the Spirit. But we must first study it out in our minds and ask God if it be right. I’ve read a lot of arguments and a lot of witnesses on the subject of torture. I could probably read a lot more. So far, what I feel is that I don’t have enough information to make an informed judgment.

    Many of you have made summary judgment because of the issues of torture and due process. I still hold that during times of war they have their place. But there should be conditions. It shouldn’t be a witch hunt. There should be reasonable evidence that an individual has required information. And other qualifiers I and others have mentioned previously.

    Where I draw the line is when some things are done to US citizens. If they are not US citizens during a time of war, the rules change for them. But even during a time of war, a US citizen at least deserves due process. I’m still considering the use of torture on US citizens. But it should not be used on any US citizen AT LEAST until after they have been found guilty of a crime through due process

    You see how many conditions I put into all this. And I haven’t even thought it through all the way yet. Can you imagine how many more I could come up with in an actual situation?

    I’m thankful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost. To me, the feeling I get is that I just don’t have enough information to pass judgment on all this.

  45. Carissa
    May 23, 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    Chris in comment #6:

    If water boarding is torture then we should never do it anywhere for any reason. We have and are doing it on our troops. If it is torture then it always has been torture then to not be outraged at its use no matter the reason should be equally reprehensible and it shouldn’t matter the circumstances or on whom it is performed.

    Chris in comment #36:

    There is a huge difference between water boarding a terrorist to save thousands of lives and water boarding people to punish or just inflict pain on them. The Japanese did it to inflict pain and their version of water boarding wasn’t even close to ours. They also water boarded civilians which is definitely against the law. The Japanese’s water boarding in many cases lead to death while ours hasn’t lead to any deaths. Their way was to inflict pain, ours is designed to frighten them to give up information to save lives, which it did.

    I’m confused. Which is it?

  46. Carissa
    May 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    Carb,

    I’m asking you to withhold judgment because you probably don’t have all the facts.

    We have to vote. We have to participate in our government or we are not doing our duty as citizens. We HAVE to make judgments eventually- even if they are not 100% correct all the time. It took me over 2 years to figure out how I felt about the Iraq War and our foreign policy in general. I was like you. I felt I did not know enough of the facts to make an informed decision. I resisted the conclusion my mind and heart were leading me toward. It is not in my personality to get involved with anything controversial. It’s uncomfortable for me. But I eventually realized that I couldn’t just sit on the sidelines forever. I studied both sides. I keep studying. I go with my gut and try to use the Holy Ghost, the gospel, and the scriptures as a guide. What else can you expect from people? When are we EVER going to have all of the facts laid out clearly for us? You may not be ready to decide one way or another on this issue and there’s nothing wrong with that. But don’t expect every other person to do the same.

    (By the way, I think the conclusions you came to after reading the article I linked to were completely reasonable. No one expects you to accept anyone’s opinion as fact. In the event the author was truthful and accurate, it would be quite important for us to know)

  47. Carissa
    May 23, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

    Here is a video of Matthew Alexander. I think he seems honest and trustworthy and makes some excellent points. Feel free to decide for yourself.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=212890&title=matthew-alexander

  48. Josh Williams
    May 23, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    We’ve known that torture was inneffective and wholly unnecessary, since the end of WW2, I though this was public knowledge…

    Just to give a little background on the SERE program.

    It came about after the Korean War, when it was learned that captured american soldiers had been giving false confessions under torture.

    While this is psychologically understandable, it’s not a very good thing to do when you’re being tortured. Your captors quickly figure out you’re BS’ing them and the torture gets worse. Staying “mum” isn’t a good idea either ’cause that makes them think you’re holding back something critical.

    People who are involved in perpetrating torture are paranoid sadists, if you know anything about criminal profiling…. It helps to understand the psychology. Normal people don’t last long in that job, or if they do, they’re going to be paranoid and sadistic by the time they get out.

    So, anyway, the purpose of SERE (at least in the past), wasn’t to train pilots and GI’s how to “tough it out” like James Bond. The point was to train them to resist the urge to give false confessions, ’cause that’s counterproductive. The best idea is to say “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

    Of course no sane commander is going to just hand out really important intelligence to his “front-line” troops. He’ll only tell them the minimum they need to know to accomplish their current objective. In a real war, by them time they actually get around to torturing you, what you know is worthless; whatever your mission was has already happened.

    (But these are just two of the facts that torturers, and those who advocate torture just don’t seem to “get.” They’re paranoid- whatever.)

  49. Josh Williams
    May 23, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    So-called “Rapport-Building” techniques are 100% more effective, and also 100% more ethical than torture. These actually work particularly well against terrorists and religious extremists because of their psychology; because of what motivates them.

    These guys are typically middle-class, relatively well educated, young, and male. (*winks to Connor*) It’s not a phenomenon of the poor and repressed, who are too busy trying to survive. They want nothing more than to feel “important.” They don’t like hiding, they want *everyone* to know who they are and what they’re about. So, if you treat them better than they expect you to, and gain their trust, they’ll *prove* just how important they are, by telling you what they’ve been up to.

    In other words, they’ll sing like canaries.

    Have you ever seen “A Few Good Men?”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hopNAI8Pefg

  50. Josh Williams
    May 23, 2009 at 5:23 pm #

    thanks to Chris for livening up the discussions.

  51. Carissa
    May 23, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    Just found this interesting quote that relates to the Nephi/Laban exception mentioned earlier:

    Some seek to justify their actions by quoting scripture. They often cite Nephi’s killing of Laban as an example of the need to violate a law to accomplish a greater good and to prevent a nation from dwindling in unbelief. But they forget that Nephi twice refused to follow the promptings of the Spirit. In the end, he agreed to break the commandment only when he was convinced that “the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes” (1 Ne. 4:13; italics added) and also (I believe) when he knew that the penalty for shedding blood had been lifted, in that one exceptional case, by Him whose right it is to fix and waive penalties.

    The danger in thinking that the end justifies the means lies in making a judgment we have no right to make. Who are we to say that the Lord will pardon wickedness done to attain a perceived “greater good.” Even if the goal is good, it would be a personal calamity to look beyond the mark and fail to repent of the wrong we do along the way.

    F. Burton Howard, “Repentance,” Ensign, May 1991

  52. Chris
    May 23, 2009 at 7:59 pm #

    Doug,
    My point was to explain that some empires are not equal to other empires. Every empire I can think of was gained through conquest and war. While a large portion of ours was “empire by invitation.” We have also grown a portion of our empire through war which I am against. If a country invites us in and pays for it I don’t see what the problem is. We are helping to protect a weak country just by being there and preventing war and chaos. As long as the government meets certain humanitarian criteria I don’t see why this would be a problem. If someone could please explain why it is wrong I’d appreciate it. The main reasons for the American Revolution are still debated today. You could read a dozen books and get a dozen answers. It all depends on your perspective and how complex you want to make it but your explanation was part of it but I wouldn’t say an overly influential part but again it is up for debate.

    Carissa,
    Comment #6 was an attempt to point out that if you think water boarding is torture then it doesn’t matter if it is performed on our own soldiers or a terrorist. The act of water boarding should be outlawed if that is your belief. It shouldn’t be prosecuted and demeaned in one case and then ok’d in another. That is hypocrisy. You must have missed the context of my two statements which is why you got confused. It is completely understandable I hope my clarification helps.
    Matthew Alexander is not this person’s real name. I don’t know why he doesn’t use his real name but does go on camera and show his face. I just find that weird since any person that has watched documentaries etc like I have know that when you fear for your life you not only hide your real name but also your face and you distort your voice. If you can’t put your own name behind what you say then you probably shouldn’t be saying anything at all. That doesn’t mean he is lying about his experience but it does put it into question his story. Unless he is willing to “out” himself and allow us skeptics to confirm his military experiences/stories. I don’t think that is too cynical of me.

    Josh,

    “We’ve known that torture was inneffective and wholly unnecessary, since the end of WW2, I though this was public knowledge…”
    No actually it isn’t ineffective according to the last 4 CIA Directors and dozens of other people in the know. If you read the CIA “torture” memos you would also know that normal interrogations got us nowhere with “big three” in Gitmo. It was only after we used EIT’s that they gave up valuable information that saved thousand maybe tens of thousands of lives. I don’t know why it would be totally unnecessary after WWII. I would think quick and accurate information would be more pertinent since we have developed the ability to destroy a city with a bomb that fits in a suitcase? If you could clarify that for me I would appreciate it.

    “These guys are typically middle-class, relatively well educated, young, and male.”
    That might be true for many especially the leadership but I don’t think that is true for the average suicide bomber. I doubt that any normal “soldier” of Hamas would qualify as middle class in an international or regional sense. Also, thanks for what I think were a compliment. I do enjoy debating these things and strengthening or reforming my opinions as my knowledge base grows.

  53. Carissa
    May 23, 2009 at 9:16 pm #

    If you read the CIA “torture” memos you would also know that normal interrogations got us nowhere with “big three” in Gitmo. It was only after we used EIT’s that they gave up valuable information that saved thousand maybe tens of thousands of lives.

    That is one side of the story, yes. Here is another side from one of the FBI’s top Al Qaeda interrogators:

    I was in the middle of this, and it’s not true that these [aggressive] techniques were effective,” he says. “We were able to get the information about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a couple of days. We didn’t have to do any of this [torture]. We could have done this the right way.”

  54. Chris
    May 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    Carissa,

    The problem is that on one hand you have an official report from the US government and on the other hand you have Mr. Soufan. If EIT’s were as black and white as you want to believe, I would think more than one FBI Interrogator and a “no named” CIA guy would have come out claiming these techniques were ineffective. I think common sense would lead us to believe the majority in this case. If not then we must assume that hundreds of people are lying just because they are sadists and enjoy “torturing” people. I think that is quite a stretch.

  55. Carissa
    May 23, 2009 at 11:54 pm #

    I would think more than one FBI Interrogator and a “no named” CIA guy would have come out claiming these techniques were ineffective

    I would think so too. How about Robert Mueller? (FBI director 2001-present)

    Hmmm… here are 15 more senior interrogators, interviewers and intelligence officials in the US military, the FBI, and the CIA

    Oh, looks like even the folks over at JPRA (the ones who run the SERE program) warned against using torture or physical/psychological duress for extracting information back in 2002

  56. Chris
    May 24, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

    I found it curious that most of the first article was filled with, “a Pentagon official said” “several people I interviewd” “people who analyzed….” If you can’t name people to back up your claims then in my mind that doesn’t prove anything. I could write a report using the same style and claim all these high ranking people told me all this stuff but if the statements can’t be verified then basic editing would make us skeptical. This skepticism makes me side with the official story.
    So you found another 15 out of several hundred against “torture.” Again Carissa I am not dismissing your point that many people for whatever reason don’t agree with EIT’s but to play the name game is worthless. There are as many people that say that these EIT’s have produced good info as there is that they haven’t. I have conceded that EIT’s will not always produce good information but sometimes they do. In the case of the “big three” specifically KSM after getting nothing with normal techniques the CIA employed ETI’s and they gave up info that helped stop the “second wave” attack on LA and an attack on the Brooklyn Bridge. If you want to disprove that EIT’s never work you should find people involved in the EIT’s of the “big three” and these two specific foiled attacks. If you can provide that then you’ll have got me. Until you do all we have debated if the informed opinions of different organizations and different people.

  57. Carissa
    May 24, 2009 at 4:44 pm #

    Chris- I am not trying to prove that EIT or torture NEVER produces results. Of course, the potential exists that it could. Personally, I could care less whether or not torture is proven overall to be effective as my opinions on the subject are principle-based, not outcome-based.

    Here’s what I am trying to say: if there are better, more effective, more humane methods of interrogation that don’t carry with them such terrible unintended consequences for the morality and security of our country (which we know that there ARE), why on earth don’t we just stick with those???

    First, you ask for names “If you can’t name people to back up your claims then in my mind that doesn’t prove anything” then when you’re given specific names you say “to play the name game is worthless. There are as many people that say that these EIT’s have produced good info as there is that they haven’t”. Unfortunately, the CIA destroyed their tapes of evidence that you’re basing your claims on so you have to take their word for it. But since they can make official statements and memos, and they’re the ones in power, and they’re the “majority”, who cares, right? We should trust them and ignore any concerns we might have because they said, “it worked!”

    Here’s a few more names (not for you Chris since you don’t play that game- but for anyone else who’s interested) Their reasoning for dismissing torture wisely goes beyond whether or not it can produce any desired results:

    Bob Baer, Frank Anderson, and Vincent Cannistraro (high profile retired CIA officers)

    Burton L. Gerber (39 year CIA vet and decorated Moscow station chief): “The reason I believe that torture corrupts the torturers and society is that a standard is changed, and that new standard that’s acceptable is less than what our nation should stand for. I think the standards in something like this are crucial to the identity of America as a free and just society”

    Merle L. Pribbenow (27 year CIA vet of Directorate of Operations): “We, as Americans, must not let our methods betray our goals. There are limits beyond which we cannot and should not go if we are to continue to call ourselves Americans. America is as much an ideal as a place” and “One of my main objections to torture is what it does to the guys who actually inflict the torture. It does bad things”

    Frank Snepp (CIA’s top interrogator in Saigon from 1972 to 1975): “the only time you can be sure that what you’re getting from someone is valid is through discourse. In [Nguyen Van Tai’s] case, the idea was to develop absolute trust, which you do not do by alienating and humiliating someone”

    Brigadier General David R. Irvine (retired Army Reserve strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner interrogation and military law for 18 years): “The price we have paid for our misdirected torture policies has been incalculable. The Arab street may not always grasp the finer points of separation of powers or proportional representation; but everyone, everywhere, comprehends hypocrisy, and judges us for ours”

    John Hutson
    : “Support for the rule of law and human rights is our most effective weapon. Our greatest strength isn’t our military might, it is our ideas and our ideals” and
    “torture inflicts a corrosive effect on those who perpetrate it”

    Milt Bearden (30-year CIA vet Directorate of Operations and senior manager for clandestine operations):
    “Throughout this ugly drama, U.S. leaders have assured the public that the extreme interrogation measures used on detainees have thwarted acts of terrorist and saved thousands of American lives. The trouble with such claims is that professionals who know something of interrogation or intelligence don’t believe them. This is not just because the old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn’t work – it doesn’t – but also because they know that torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize”

    Terrell E. Arnold (Deputy Director, Office of Counter-Terrorism and Emergency Planning, US State Dept)
    “we actually have no reliable evidence that torture works. What we actually have is that alleged high value prisoners said thing their torturers wanted to hear after they had been waterboarded countless times, hanged on tiptoes for hours at a time, slammed repeatedly against a plywood wall, confined in boxes too small for them to sit up, publicly embarrassed by being stripped naked, and confined in near freezing conditions. What these processes gave the interrogators was a situation in which they would not be able to distinguish fact from fiction in the spoken efforts of prisoners to make it all stop.”

    Army Field Manual 34-52 Chapter 1: “the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear”

    Senate Armed Services Committee Report

  58. Chris
    May 24, 2009 at 7:20 pm #

    Carissa,
    As for the moral argument no one can win because each person has their own moral compass and interprets what is harsh in different ways. My problem is for the vast majority of people this isn’t a moral argument it is a political one. How can people that think it is their right to kill an unborn baby complain about some harsh questions on murderers? I applaud you for your actual moral standing unlike the majority of people feigning outrage on tv everyday. If you believe sleep deprivation & using a caterpillar etc. are torture then ok, I don’t think they are. The security risk because of the EIT’s is completely unfounded. 9/11 happened before Gitmo existed. Terrorists attacked us several times long before Gitmo or EIT’s were made public because they existed under the Clinton Administration as well. I have never heard of a person stating that he joined terrorism because of Gitmo or because of our EIT’s. To think people would not join the jihad if we just treated the captured terrorists better is laughable. This argument is completely conjecture and has no basis in fact. It reeks of the typical “blowback” principle so loved by liberals & some libertarians that if only we would be nicer and leave them alone they would stop trying to destroy Israel and start living within the rule of law. I sure wish I could believe that!!! (sarcasm)
    The what is and what isn’t torture should be debated and laws should be passed which cannot be crossed no matter what. The debate should be non-partisan which isn’t something that is currently happening. The laws should be based on our countries morals and security.

    First, you ask for names
    I asked for names for people who claim to have been personally involved but are unwilling to put themselves out there for criticism. Far too many people love to criticize policy when they are no longer in the position to change that policy. It is easy to speak out when you are retired but it takes guts to speak out when you can actually do something about it even though they’ll probably be consequences. All the other names you have weren’t involved in any way shape or form in the “big three” that did produce results and save lives. If you remember we were debating the effectiveness of EIT’s at that time.

    Here’s what I am trying to say: if there are better, more effective…
    Yes it would be better if we didn’t have to use EIT’s on people to get them to tell the truth but sometimes we do. Which technique is more effective is still up for debate. What isn’t in debate is that EIT’s save thousands of lives when the normal methods failed. Both have different strengths and weaknesses. To rule out one in my opinion is near sighted until specific laws are in place that are based in facts and principles.

    Unfortunately, the CIA destroyed their tapes of evidence that you’re basing your claims on so you have to take their word for it.
    They destroyed the tapes for a variety of complex reasons most of which I disagree with but to say that the CIA is lying without proof is quite cynical. One reason is that they were afraid that people would illegally leak the video and endanger the lives of the interrogators. I am sure the NYT would have done it in a second. I am a big cynic of gov’t but this isn’t a black and white issue. From what I have seen you have provided many opinions by informed people that weren’t involved in the issue of the “big three” that proved the effectiveness of EIT’s at least in those three cases. These opinions don’t prove these techniques wrong nor ineffective it is only opinion.
    The Army Field Manuel gives less leeway than the police officer has when questioning a suspected criminal. It only allows for name, rank, and serial number and can’t do anything that would threaten or make the suspect feel uncomfortable. That is why they don’t question these people and we allow the CIA to do it. Also, stress positions, sleep deprivation, loud music, and a caterpillar aren’t synonymous with the word force. To shorten our discussion which EIT’s do you find unacceptable ever, acceptable in certain circumstances, and which are ok alway etc?

  59. Doug Bayless
    May 24, 2009 at 8:09 pm #

    My concerns with the ‘paradigm shift’ pushed, apparently, by VP Cheney personally [among others], are two-fold.

    One is that it completely moved us off of ‘superior moral ground’. Instead of being a ‘light on a hill’ we rapidly lowered our standards to operate exactly according to the SERE program which was designed to prepare our soldiers for the type of treatment they might receive at the hands of ‘human rights challenged’ tyrannical regimes.

    As a side-note, my understanding of the SERE program is similar to what Carissa mentioned. It was mainly to help prevent the false confessions that result from that type of interrogation. The main impetus being the great many captured Americans in the Vietnam war that were quickly forced onto radio and television denouncing the USA, the war, praising the Vietcong, and the wonderful merits of Communism. Most of these guys later reported that they hadn’t suddenly become completely anti-American but that they would have said anything rather than continue the *ahem* ‘interrogations’. The broadcasts of fellow soldiers denouncing America were bad for morale and that was the main type of ‘false confession’ SERE was designed to reduce. I don’t know that it was ever considered much of a protection against the release of actual information – torture isn’t known for actually gaining the confidence needed to extract that kind of thing — fictional movie scenarios notwithstanding.

    Second, and this is nearly as disturbing, ‘EITs’ produce bad information. They produce the kind of propaganda that regimes like North Vietnam, the Soviet Union, China, etc. want to provide their peoples. The America that I’d like to see should be completely opposed to fomenting and exploiting bad propaganda. In a particularly telling example, one of the very first ‘high value’ detainees — rendered to Egypt to do the dirty work of torture since we hadn’t yet worked out our own plans — Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi confessed to all sorts of [false] things that were used as primary justification for the invasion of Iraq [among other things the broadcloth invention that Saddam was involved with Osama and al-Qaeda].

    This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as our ‘actionable intelligence’ goes. Many of the leads provided by the EIT’s were not simply a ‘waste of time’ or marred by damaging the American reputation — they result in deaths and destruction of many more innocents: our own troops shipped overseas as a result, as well as the men, women, and children that become ‘collateral damage’ in these operations.

    As far as I’m concerned, I can see the wisdom of preparing our troops with the SERE program. But to reverse engineer it and suddenly make it our own ‘modus operandi’ was a terrible mistake which our citizenry should be informed about so that we can clamor for its correction. The idea that Cheney is out there claiming he would still do nothing different provided 20/20 hindsight is simply unconscionable. I believe in learning from mistakes and correcting them when possible.

  60. Josh Williams
    May 24, 2009 at 8:28 pm #

    You’re welcome, Chris. Diverse viewpoints are always appreciated, especially when they’re willing to carry out a civil conversation.

    Thanks to Carissa in #53, #55, #57 for providing most of my argument. You get 10 points!

    In my opinion, the evidence that EIT’s yeilded any new or substantial intel is seriously flawed and circumstantial at best. Doubly so that that information so come by saved anybody! In the end we only have the CIA’s word for it, and they been doing their damnedest to cover their butts, to wash their hands of it. I question the objectivity of the CIA directors, as they have many conflicts of interest. I’ve read claims that the “big three” had already told us all they knew, before we started manhandling them and filling their lungs with water.

    It is wishful thinking in the extreme to think that only the guilty and only those who are actually holding back information will get tortured.

    If not then we must assume that hundreds of people are lying just because they are sadists and enjoy “torturing” people.

    You’re right, “Labeling” people is a dirty kind of argument. I’ve argued before that labels such as “torture”, or “EIT’s” don’t carry much weight in themselves.

    Arguing that torture is or isn’t effective is entirely beside the point. For example, Scorched Earth warfare is effective, but there are both practical and moral reasons not to use it, which supersede the question of it’s effectiveness. I only used the effectiveness argument to reinforce my premise that it’s wrong.

    So, even if it was effective, it’s still absolutely wrong and evil. But, even if it wasn’t wrong, traditional interrogation methods are still more reliable.

    This argument has been made many times before. Even the prospect of saving many lives does not morally justify inherently evil and dishonorable acts. There will always be people who resist traditional, ethical methods. Torturing one person once is too many.

  61. Carissa
    May 24, 2009 at 8:35 pm #

    The security risk because of the EIT’s is completely unfounded… I have never heard of a person stating that he joined terrorism because of Gitmo or because of our EIT’s

    You have heard of it on this very thread but you do not believe it. You disregarded “Matthew Alexander’s” firsthand testimony on the subject simply because he’s using a pseudonym to protect himself, so I’m not sure you’re going to listen to any of these, but I’ll put some up here anyway:

    Major General Thomas Romig (former Army JAG): “I don’t know how you could say we’re safer and more secure. If you torture somebody, they’ll tell you anything. I don’t know anybody that is good at interrogation, has done it a lot, that will say that that’s an effective means of getting information. … So I don’t think it’s effective. To that extent I don’t see how it’s made it safer. It has not made it safer for our soldiers when they’re captured.”

    Aberto Mora (former Navy general counsel): “[T]here are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq — as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat — are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.”

    memos from Deputy JAG of Air Force Jack Rives, Navy JAG Michael Lohr, and Staff JAG to the Commandant of the Marine Corps Kevin Sandkuhler, to Air Force General Counsel Mary Walker, Feb. 2003. Senate Armed Services Report: “Employment of exception techniques may have a negative effect on the treatment of U.S. POWs by their captors and raises questions about the ability of the U.S. to call others to account for mistreatment of U.S. servicemembers.”

    E-mail from Capt. Daniel Donavan JFCOM (Joint Forces Command) Staff Judge Advocate, to ADM Giambastiani, LTG Wagner, and Maj Gen Soligan: “I fail to see how anyone can reasonably say that employing such techniques against those in our custody is worthy of the United States, no matter how much we may need the information. In my view, for the U.S. to do this ‘lowers the bar’ and ensures, if there is any doubt, that similar techniques will be employed against any US personnel captured by our enemies.”

    statement read by executioner of Nick Berg: “We tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls. You will not receive anything from us but coffins after coffins … slaughtered in this way.”

    No Chris, it is not laughable to think there would be less insurgent recruitments if we treated the captured terrorists better. It is a very serious matter. Our actions have severe consequences for our troops and us as civilians.

  62. Kelly W.
    May 24, 2009 at 8:39 pm #

    Here is a quote from this morning’s news circuit. I only cut and pasted a small segment so you could get the idea:

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. military officer on Sunday pushed for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison despite rising resistance in Congress, saying it serves as a “recruiting symbol” for America’s enemies.
    Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, rallied behind President Barack Obama’s move to close the detention facility at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, which is operated by the U.S. military.
    “Well, the concern I’ve had about Guantanamo in these wars is it has been a symbol — and one which has been a recruiting symbol for those extremists and jihadists who would fight us. … That’s at the heart of the concern for Guantanamo’s continued existence,” Mullen said on ABC’s “This Week.”

  63. Josh Williams
    May 24, 2009 at 8:50 pm #

    As to my comment that terrorism is a phenomenon of the educated and the middle class:

    Here’s a quote from one Dr. Michael Radu, of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, (not that the title means anything.)

    Those who hold to “poverty as the root cause” do so even though the data does not fit their model. Even leaving aside multimillionaire Osama bin Laden, the backgrounds of the September 11 killers indicates that they were without exception scions of privilege: all were either affluent Saudis and Egyptians, citizens of the wealthy Gulf statelets, or rich sons of Lebanon, trained in and familiar with the ways of the West—not exactly the victims of poverty in Muslim dictatorships. Many poor Egyptians, Moroccans, and Palestinians may support terrorists, but they do not—and cannot—provide them with recruits. In fact, Al Qaeda has no use for illiterate peasants. They cannot participate in World Trade Center-like attacks, unable as they are to make themselves inconspicuous in the West and lacking the education and training terrorist operatives need.

    Indeed, ever since the Russian intellectuals “invented” modern terrorism in the 19th century, revolutionary violence—terrorism is just one form of it—has been a virtual monopoly of the relatively privileged. Terrorists have been middle class, often upper class, and always educated, but never poor.

    I say again that the poor and repressed generally have neither the means, the money, or the opportunity, to become terrorists.

    I don’t know where the myth that terrorist and religious extremists were “rabble” came from…… I’m sure this is some that the privileged violent extremists themselves believe, that they are champions of the poor and downtrodden, who are in fact the people they usually hurt the most.

    Respectfully, I see that common sense arguments aren’t the best weapon against mythology.

    For example, I think you would hesitate to describe members of the KKK to be “poor and repressed……..” (those were their victims.) If you would, read a good book on the subject.

  64. Chris
    May 24, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    Man it is hard being the only contrarian here, ha ha.

    Doug,
    My concerns with the ‘paradigm shift’ pushed, apparently, by VP Cheney personally [among others], are two-fold.
    The problem is that most of these techniques like rendition were started under Clinton implemented in part by a man named Michael Scheur. Let’s not throw Cheney completely under the bus for continuing an already existent and far more secretive program.

    Second, and this is nearly as disturbing, ‘EITs’ produce bad information.
    There is a huge difference between the EIT’s we use and the techniques employed by N. Vietnam and the other countries you cited. As I have mentioned before we don’t interrogate people to seek confessions but to gain information. Context is everything. Carissa and I have already duked it out about the effectiveness of EIT’s so if you want to comment on that please counter some of my previous arguments. I don’t want to have to repeat myself over and over if I can help it. As to the SERE school. No one has yet to explain to me why it is ok to use torture on our own soldiers and abhor it when used on terrorists. The amount of training will help a capture US soldier from breaking but in the end almost all of them will either break or die. As any soldier with common sense will know that you can’t believe what any captured soldier says though it probably does affect morale to some degree. Water boarding as bad as it is can’t compare to what the NVA and other previously mentioned countries have done.

    Many of the leads provided by the EIT’s were not simply a ‘waste of time’ or marred by damaging the American reputation
    I don’t get how this damages our reputation. I bet you can’t name me an influential country that hasn’t done worse. Why are we the only country that is ever held to any kind of standard while all the other countries lie, cheat, and steal as official policy but the world stays relatively silent? You should really stop caring what China, France, and these other countries think about us. As long as we can “look ourselves in the mirror” who cares what they think.

    Josh,
    Why do you think the intel gained is flawed? Other than the cynical view that you can’t trust the CIA? I am certain the CIA tries to cover its butt and has done so many times in the past. But to question their findings when the specifics about the things I’ve mentioned previously haven’t been questioned by anyone to my knowledge is a stretch for me. Who has claimed that the “big three” gave us the information prior to the EIT’s?

    It is wishful thinking in the extreme to think that only the guilty and only those who are actually holding back information will get tortured.
    You can prove that of course right? Since none of us are privy to the information then I don’t think either of us that make a claim either way. I will always side with the people in the trenches until I can prove them wrong.

    Arguing that torture is or isn’t effective is entirely beside the point. For example, Scorched Earth warfare is effective, but there are both practical and moral reasons not to use it, which supersede the question of it’s effectiveness.
    Good point. We return back to what we find morally objectionable. As I have said before I don’t think loud music, stress positions, or sleep deprivation as torture. I’ve put myself through those things trying to write a paper at the last minute for grad school.

    So, even if it was effective, it’s still absolutely wrong and evil. But, even if it wasn’t wrong, traditional interrogation methods are still more reliable.
    Again that is completely un-provable. The normal way is more effective if the suspect is cooperative but not all suspects will cooperate as anyone in law enforcement will tell you. Then what do you do? You sit back and let people maybe family members die? If you can then I’ll respect you for standing by your convictions but fortunately for us all we’ll hopefully never have to be in that situation. I am interested to know which EIT’s you think are ok and which are not?

    I say again that the poor and repressed generally have neither the means, the money, or the opportunity, to become terrorists.
    Of course many terrorists are middle to upper classmen but to discount the fact that poverty does play a role in terrorism I believe is false. Saddam Hussein paid $25K to the family of every Palestinians suicide bomber. Why would they kill themselves for $25K if they were already ok financially? Look at Somali and the pirate problem. If the country wasn’t worthless then we wouldn’t have nearly as many pirates. There would still be pirates. From what I’ve read you are quite right that poverty itself doesn’t lead to terrorism but I think to discount it all together is a mistake. The rich and affluent are always willing to provide the means to the poor to help further their own agenda. So in short I’ll concede the point but only tepidly.

    Carissa,
    If you notice Carissa there is a lot of opinions in the quotes you provided. Again informed opinions but to prove something you need data to prove it. You cannot prove any of your ascertains as 100% true and neither can I. As for Alexander you never answered my questions about him. If he was so worried for his safety he wouldn’t be on tv all the time. If someone wanted to find him they could now that they’ve seen his face. What difference will giving his name out do? From my research he has claimed to have been part of the TF-145 “Gators” which is HQed in Balad AFB, Iraq. The task forces are divided into four groups. TF West organized around SEAL Team 6 with Rangers in support. TF Central organized around Delta Squadron with Rangers in support. TF North organized around a Ranger battalion with a small Delta element. TF Black organized UK Special Air Service “saber squadron” with UK paratroopers in support. If Alexander was an AF Interrogator as he claimed then either he is lying about his location or he is lying about being in the AF. Again if you can’t put your name behind your opinion then you aren’t worth being listened to unless your life is at risk but I have already dealt with that issue.

    No Chris, it is not laughable to think there would be less insurgent recruitments if we treated the captured terrorists better. It is a very serious matter. Our actions have severe consequences for our troops and us as civilians.
    Carissa you have been so good and debating me until this part. I don’t see how you have in any way countered my point. Can you prove that Gitmo has been the motivating factor for any person to join terrorism? Can you point to any Jihadi writings that have stated we are fighting America because of Gitmo or our EIT’s? How does that jive with the terror attacks before Gitmo existed? Especially 9/11? I am not denying our actions have consequences but have you ever thought that the terrorists are using our own morals and values against us? If we start treating them better and start thinking of them as only victims or as rational people then we’ll weaken our defenses and then they’ll have us right where they want us. They are very smart and know how to use our own system against us. Much as General Giap & Ho Chi Minh did in Vietnam.

  65. Carissa
    May 25, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    This will be my last comment… I have WAY too many dishes and piles of laundry stacking up to continue this ;)

    No one has yet to explain to me why it is ok to use torture on our own soldiers and abhor it when used on terrorists

    First of all, realize that not everyone thinks it is ok. I’ve never claimed I think it is. There are side effects for messing around with this stuff, even for training (on the soldiers AND on the instructors who are constantly role playing the perpetrators). It hardens people. It can desensitize people and lower moral standards- even just acting it out. There are some soldiers who feel it would have been just as effective to learn resistance in a different way. The training isn’t presented as how the US does things, but how the “bad guys” might do things. From what I understand, the SERE curriculum presents the rapport-building techniques as the most effective and best option.

    As for Alexander you never answered my questions about him

    I don’t feel I have to defend his choice to show his face but not his name. I’m sure he’s got his reasons. I think he is courageous for speaking out at all. I suppose I am just “siding with someone in the trenches unless he is proven wrong”. I tend to trust him, you don’t. Same with Soufan. There’s nothing I can say to change your mind.

    How does that jive with the terror attacks before Gitmo existed? Especially 9/11?

    According to his exact words:

    “We declared jihad against the US government, because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical. It has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous and criminal whether directly or through its support of the Israeli occupation.” – Osama bin Laden – to CNN in March 1997

    They obviously are motivated by our government’s ACTIONS (whether perceived or real). They feel we have dealt with them unjustly, that we have carried out criminal acts, and that we are behaving tyrannically, arrogantly, and aggressively through our foreign policy. You can debate whether or not our government is guilty of these charges, but that is their motive for jihad- laid out perfectly clear. Prisoner abuses and degradation add fuel to the fire because it is more perceived unjustness toward them.

    Using torture may happen to get a couple of plots foiled now and then. But how is that effective in the long term when it is continually fanning the flames of their hatred and perceived injustice?

  66. Chris
    May 25, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    Carissa,

    Good luck on the dishes… ha ha. Sorry for assuming that you didn’t thought WB was ok on our soldiers. That was directed more at the first few people that posted on this blog who are trying to have it both ways. I commend you for your consistency! As for Soufa & Alexander I find it funny that some people pick and choose who they are cynical of. I am not suggesting that you do this but it seems to me that many people the comment here hate Bush & Cheney and don’t believe anything they say ever but if anyone says anything against them they are automatically credible and we should believe them. I am cynical of everyone equally.

    To bin-Laden our troop presence in Arabia was reason enough for Jihad. That is where it started, well that and our support for Israel. Gitmo does not cause terrorism it might “enflame” it but if you think it is in the top ten reasons or a deciding factor for the jihad then you need to read this.
    Gitmo is a PR stunt. They don’t care how we treat them as long as they win. If they were so outraged about our EIT’s they’d complain to the UN and Human Rights Watch, etc. They don’t care because they don’t follow the rules either. They are dividing us by using Gitmo as a propaganda tool so we go after each other instead of going after them. I bet they have good laugh about out debate on EIT’s.
    Our actions to have consequences but it goes both ways. If we accidentaly bomb a school some might join the jihad. If we don’t stand up to them with determination that also brings people to the jihad. See previously link for that. Even if we do everything perfect they’d still create some controversy to distract us and turn people against the war. The only way the terrorists can win is by getting us to quit. They know this and they are manipulating us to perfection.

    Why is it that only our actions cause outrage? Why cant’ we ever retaliate due to the injustice they’ve committed on us? I don’t see why people always try to excuse away their acts by something we did (whetere justified or not). That is a strong statement and I don’t believe is true for you but is true for many. Sometimes people are just looking for any excuse to do evil. They find a mistake we’ve made and make it into a rallying cry for revenge. Sometimes people are just evil “and want to watch the world burn.”

  67. loquaciousmomma
    May 25, 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    Chris: All of the EIT’s are immoral in my point of view. Cavalierly saying that you put yourself through the stress positions, sleep deprivation and loud music in college is too glib for such a serious subject. Stress positions are inhumane. I try to imagine myself standing with my fingers spread out on a wall arms spread apart, and my legs spread apart, and my leaning forward so all of my weight is on my fingertips, and doing this for hours. Or standing with my legs spread apart in a squatting position for hours. It would be horrible. Not being allowed to sleep for days and being forced to listen to loud music to keep you awake messes with your mind, and damages your hearing.

    Chris: Napolean’s comment can be found here It is from the book Napoleon on the Art of War on page 11under the section on Intelligence.

    Also, here is a link to address the Guantanamo is/isn’t making terrorists debate.

    In fact, this entire report is vital to this whole debate. In 2007 McClatchy Newspapers did an eight month investigative study of the detainees. They interviewed as many as they could and got access to their records, whenever possible. I would encourage you to read the profiles of the detainees.

    There are some excellent documents, especially this one. Pay special attention to pages 6-9 of this document. There are important explanations of the purpose of each tactic as used by an “interrogator”.

    This is a 63 page file, but if you flip through it there are several other important and revealing things in there, like this “The pressures used in training are minor in comparison to that which American prisoners have experienced in the past.” And then “If too much physical pressure is applied, the student is made vulnerable to the effects of learned helplessness, which will render him/her less prepared for captivity than s/he was prior to training.” Thus, it is logical to reject assertions that our use of EIT’s on prisoners is no worse than our use of it on our own SERE trainees. They are entirely different situations, even according to the JPRA. (Joint Personnel Recovery Agency).

    Here is an excellent video about Guantanamo :

    http://americannewsproject.com/videos/profile-guantanamo-lawyer-speaks-out

    It is actually about an attorney who is expressing his concerns about the legality of the system, but the images in the middle that show how the prisoners are treated are revealing.

    Carb: Sorry about my goof.

    You have always provided thoughtful comments throughout Connor’s blog, this time I am surprised to be on the other side. Your statements in this thread smack of relativism. Ideals are necessary, they are called principles. Without principles we are left like chaff to the wind. Think about it . You are asking us to withhold judgment until we have all the facts. Will we ever have all of the facts? In this sinful world, do you think that those in power will ever help us to make an informed decision? With so much “spin” out there, we will always be told what those in power want us to hear to shepherd us to the decision they want us to make. We have to use our knowledge of principles and not use conditional judgment.

    You are absolutely right about the Holy Ghost, however. We have to use his guidance, especially in a world that is so corrupt. We cannot rely on media for accurate information, but we can rely on the Holy Ghost to help us to discern what is true and isn’t. We should have made a decision about torture before it was ever used. We have the Holy Ghost to help us do just that. We can pray about it and study the issue and come to a conclusion based on truth.

    I have not actually prayed to know that torture was in fact always wrong, but I have pondered and listened carefully for the Spirit as I have studied it. I am convinced the Lord would not condone it under any circumstances. There are other ways of getting information than torture. The Nephites went to their prophets to get intel. I realize that the chances of the DOD asking president Monson for intel are pretty slim, but the point is that a righteous nation has other means of getting intel then through torture.

    Carissa: You rock!!! You have made many excellent points.

  68. Chris
    May 25, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    Loqua,
    Cavalierly saying that you put yourself through the stress positions, sleep deprivation and loud music in college is too glib for such a serious subject.
    You’re right at least about the stress positions. I once went almost three days with about 5 hours of sleep and then went and played basketball for a few hours. Right when I got home I was extremely sick and was weak and a little dizzy for about a day. But to call this torture I think is throwing it in haphazardly with other far more grotesque things. Do you consider all EIT’s torture or just some of them? Please be specific. Where do you draw the line between what is ok and what isn’t? Is frightening someone ok or can we only be nice?
    Thanks for the Napoleon quote! Your first article was very interesting. It also helps make part of my point. If the assertions of the former commander of Gitmo are correct it reinforces my belief that the great majority of the detainees can never be released. Of course they should be able to challenge their status. It seems to me that we need to get better at arresting people in the first place. Gitmo should be a place of only the most hardened and most guilty terrorists. If there is any doubt they should be left where in a jail where we found them and if we haven’t found anything significant on them after a certain short period of time they should be released. I would wager that most of the people released from Gitmo though they had no terrorist ties were still doing criminal/bad things which was why they go targeted in the first place. An unfortunate and costly mistake but maybe they shouldn’t be even hinting toward being involved in terrorism. I believe everyone we have picked up was at least very suspicious. We need to get better intel before we pick these people up. Once we capture them it is hard to go back from that.
    The McClatchy thing was interesting. As I explained to Carissa I think we allow our own opinions to blind us and we only believe the facts that will reinforce our own preconceived ideas. I am probably guilty of this as well. Every criminal claims that they are innocent and many claim they were brutalized by the police. This is a common practice because if the public gets on their side the police will likely let them go or make a deal to make the accusations go away, even if they are false. I wouldn’t be surprised if the great majority of the torture accusations were false. They should be investigated by an independent something or other but you can’t take a person’s word as the law especially after they’ve been wrongfully held for many years. They of course would seek to damage their captors any way they can and as you article suggests some go to terrorism. The people held in Gitmo that are later released probably do become terrorists in some cases but I have been arguing that against the mere existence of Gitmo doesn’t make people terrorists. Do people wrongfully held in US prisons always become or have an excuse to become what they were wrongfully accused of? Two wrongs don’t make a right.
    I still don’t see how a practice when used for training can be seen as ok but when used to get information on terrorists to save lives is torture. Is waterboading only torture based on the intent of the interrogator? Or is it torture based on the person on whom it is being used? I believe that it is either torture or it is not. It is like a poor starving person stealing food. His intentions are not bad because he only steals because he has to to survive. A normal person who steals does so for his own personal gain. Is one crime of stealing different than the other? They are both stealing and stealing is wrong no matter the context. We can sympathize with the one party over the other but justice is blind and should rule on the law not on sympathy or compassion.
    The video is interesting but when has any country anywhere given constitutional rights to POW’s? Again some rights should be bestowed so we have to prove their guilt because this war is different than past ones. Don’t you think that maybe this lawyer is in it for himself? All lawyers love publicity and what would give mor publicity but to go against the “evil” Bush Administration and defend suspected terrorists? I’d like a few sources to check his facts if you don’t mind? Just to pick out one that stood out. He claimed that they are “cut off from the outside world.” Unfortunately they get to watch tv specifically Al-Jazeera so that is one claim that is false. In fact one time some prisoners were offended by a commercial and freaked out and had a small riot and destroyed the tv.
    It seems to me that normal government inefficiency and idiocy is ripe at Gitmo and the legal system tbere and not some grand conspiracy to torture & detain “peace loving, hospital administrators.” The lawyer might be well intentioned and he might not. He has some good points and he has some exagerations and falsehoods. All this proves is that this system has major flaws all of which we already know exist. It is no different than some of the flaws in our own legal system, except the context and international recognition.

  69. Connor
    May 25, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    But to call this torture I think is throwing it in haphazardly with other far more grotesque things.

    For you to do it voluntarily to yourself is one thing. For another person to force you to do this is quite another.

    Do you consider all EIT’s torture or just some of them? Please be specific. Where do you draw the line between what is ok and what isn’t?

    Let’s step back a moment. Before this post-9/11 induced terrorism fearmongering, the term “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” was not used. Its derivation stems from the Gestapo. Orwellian in intent, this term has become the popularized euphemism used to quell civilian discontent with the actions it describes. In the past few years it has become a comfortable term for imperialist neoconservatives who glorify the state.

    It might be more honest to cast aside the recent change in terminology and embrace the commonly understood definition from just a few years ago: torture.

    As per drawing the line somewhere, the onus is on you and others who favor these actions—not those who disagree with them. If you want to torture somebody, or used so-called “enhanced” techniques (as if that even means anything), then you have to define what is acceptable and what is not. So, what say you?

    You might be careful as you try to settle on something you feel comfortable with, and consider the following questions:

    • Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist who is a child in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
    • Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist who is a woman in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
    • Is it morally permissible to torture by any means a suspected terrorist in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
    • Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist even if it results in his permanent disability in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
    • Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist even if it results in his death in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?

    Or, as the same individual has written elsewhere:

    If torture is okay, then why not rape female terrorists until they talk? It would hurt them less than pulling out their fingernails. I’m sure there would be no shortage of soldiers willing to participate. Hey, if it saves one American life then it must be okay. Right?

    I would wager that most of the people released from Gitmo though they had no terrorist ties were still doing criminal/bad things which was why they go targeted in the first place.

    Based on what evidence? As one who constantly demands facts and sources, and claims to be equally cynical of all accusations and assumptions, this biased quote in favor of the detainees’ guilt betrays your claims. Or do you think that only people born in American deserve to be innocent until proven guilty?

    I still don’t see how a practice when used for training can be seen as ok but when used to get information on terrorists to save lives is torture. Is waterboading only torture based on the intent of the interrogator?

    To use the extreme example used above, is sexual intercourse always rape? Or does motive and consent have something to do with it? Clearly, the actions of two consenting adults “making love” and one aggressive individual forcing himself on an unwilling woman are at their core the same. Yet the motive and consent involved drastically changes things.

  70. Connor
    May 25, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

    This conversation has, understandably, taken up the issue of waterboarding/torture more than anything else. But the point of this post was not to debate these issues specifically, but rather the existence and purpose of the prison at Guantanamo Bay (and its sister sites). I maintain that for a government to indefinitely detain an individual without charging them with a crime or affording them an opportunity to challenge their accusers is antithetical to liberty and a hallmark of empire and tyranny.

    I believe that President David O. McKay said it best:

    To deprive an intelligent human being of his free agency is to commit the crime of the ages….

    Guantanamo exists to do just that—deprive its inhabitants of their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. There are without a doubt some individuals within its walls that deserve to be in prison and have committed some sort of crime. But to establish and maintain an extra-Constitutional establishment outside of America to lock up these brown-skinned non-persons (as others seem to consider them, not me) is not something I stand for. We’re better than that. Or, well, we should be…

  71. Chris
    May 25, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    For you to do it voluntarily to yourself is one thing. For another person to force you to do this is quite another.
    I don’t understand how this answers my point you quoted. Sleep deprivation is in no way comparable with putting nails under fingernails, burning people with red hot irons, or the countless other ways which people have chosen to inflict pain and suffering on others over the centuries.

    Let’s step back a moment. Before this post-9/11 induced terrorism fearmongering, the term “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” was not used. Its derivation stems from the Gestapo. Orwellian in intent, this term has become the popularized euphemism used to quell civilian discontent with the actions it describes. In the past few years it has become a comfortable term for imperialist neoconservatives who glorify the state.
    The term wasn’t used probably because no one knew nor cared that the same techniques were being used. Also, in part because Republicans are tougher on security and when a democratic administration is tough they don’t criticize them. I love how you threw in the word “Gestapo” to hype up the debate. I can do the same thing. I say we both stop playing this stupid game of who can invoke the worst images or use the most polarizing words in an attempt to base our arguments solely on emotions. It is beneath both of our intelligences. Also, I appreciate once again the snide remark about me being an “imperialist” and “glorifying the state” but since you never answered my question about the differing definitions of empire (comment #38 & #52) then I think your comment was a bit harsh. If you’d like to add your opinion on Bahrain and other similar bases please chime in.
    EIT’s while admittedly is a word play goes back to my first point you quoted. There is a difference between torture and enhanced, advanced, rougher, meaner, tougher (whatever adjective you want to insert) techniques. Normal interrogation is just simple question and answer thus making “Good Cop, Bad Cop” and other harsher/rougher techniques would be consider a EIT’s based on what I assume you accept, Army Field Manuel interrogations. If you would answer what EIT’s listed in the recently released memo’s we can stop circling around and around and get to the point.

    As per drawing the line somewhere, the onus is on you and others who favor these actions—not those who disagree with them.
    Good job on avoiding my question… I favor water boarding only when specifically order by the President and only under an immediate threat when all other techniques have failed. Sleep deprivation, cold, stress positions, are not torture in my opinion. Neither are empty threats of shipping them to Egypt, yelling at them, or putting a caterpillar in their cell. All interrogations should be done in the presence of a doctor to ensure the safety of the prisoner. Congress should be completely informed on all cases/techniques before implemented. Does that help? Your turn.

    Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist who is a child in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
    I love how you just got done lambasting me about word play then you use a question that uses the same technique. To use the word torture automatically raises the emotion of the question because it conjures up the harshest treatment imaginable. If we are talking about what I believe to be torture then it is never ok but if we are talking your definition when I’d still say no on a child. Children should get special treatment just like they do in our system. Some can be treated as adults depending on their crime and age. I really doubt children will have any high value information though. EIT’s are only permissible on high ranking people that are conclusively terrorist not suspected.

    Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist who is a woman in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
    Yes if she is considered high enough in the organization to have useful information that cannot be gained through other means. Knowing radical Islam’s view on women this is as unlikely to happen as the child example.

    Is it morally permissible to torture by any means a suspected terrorist in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
    If you don’t have concrete evidence then no. Water boarding was only used of three people all of which are undeniably terrorists and some of the worst ones in fact.

    Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist even if it results in his permanent disability in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
    Of course not.

    Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist even if it results in his death in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
    Nope. Love how the last two questions serve to raise the level of emotion even more on the topic of EIT’s or torture in this case. This guy sure doesn’t have an agenda. (sarcasm)

    If torture is okay, then why not rape female terrorists until they talk? It would hurt them less than pulling out their fingernails. I’m sure there would be no shortage of soldiers willing to participate. Hey, if it saves one American life then it must be okay. Right?
    The question is completely ridiculous. Rape is and will never be considered (rightfully so). If you or this guy is comparing sleep deprivation with rape then you’re both a little nuts. He could have made his point without the insult to the armed forces though. I am sure this guy is motivated by really high morals (sarcasm).

    Based on what evidence? As one who constantly demands facts and sources, and claims to be equally cynical of all accusations and assumptions, this biased quote in favor of the detainees’ guilt betrays your claims. Or do you think that only people born in American deserve to be innocent until proven guilty?
    The evidence that Loqua provided in one of her articles about a man in Gitmo for a few years because he was an Afghani warlord forcing people to pay him money by the point of an AK-47 for one. There is another one which Kelly & I talked about on the “Outrage Over A Shoe” blog. Do you believe that our government just picks people up randomly to imprison them on the taxpayers dime for fun? I am cynical of everyone but do believe that most people are motivated by good intentions though they do make bad choices. I also love how you never pass up a chance for a backhanded insult. It was my opinion from my before mentioned belief in the goodness of each individual that our government means well when attempting to protect our country but does make a lot of bad decisions. I believe what official story unless credible evidence is placed before me to refute it. To not believe everything reported by the government is border line paranoia.

    To use the extreme example used above, is sexual intercourse always rape? Or does motive and consent have something to do with it? Clearly, the actions of two consenting adults “making love” and one aggressive individual forcing himself on an unwilling woman are at their core the same. Yet the motive and consent involved drastically changes things.
    That is a good example but I don’t see how it relates to my original point. Sex is sex and only under a certain context is rape (ie illegal). Torture should be torture no matter the context, even if both agree to it in advance. To “torture” someone to train them to resist real torture doesn’t make sense to me.

    This conversation has, understandably, taken up the issue of waterboarding/torture more than anything else.
    That would be partly my fault but I couldn’t help it since you did put it into your blog and I am a pretty thorough. I have raised several questions about Gitmo (see comment #3 & #34) which remain unanswered so the blame is not completely mine for straying from the original topic.

    To deprive an intelligent human being of his free agency is to commit the crime of the ages….
    And to deprive people of their life is the worst sin only after denying the Holy Ghost. Imprisoning innocent people is horrible and I’ve already talked about this a bit in comment #68. I think some horrible mistakes should be separated from the people that are at Gitmo that are guilty like the “big three.” I answer your original point when I asked you about Miranda rights and how every person picked up would have to be released and thus making them impossible to try in civilian courts. So how would you proceed? If there cases are thrown out where would you put them. No countries are willing to accept them that won’t actually torture them and we can’t release them here. US bases are considered US soil so your assumption that they reside “outside of America” is false. The same rules and laws should apply. To think that EIT’s would stop if a Gitmo style prison existed in the US I don’t think is true.

  72. Kelly W.
    May 25, 2009 at 9:31 pm #

    Venezuela has offered to take all the Guantanamo detainees off our hands. We have denied Venezuela’s offer.

  73. Chris
    May 25, 2009 at 10:51 pm #

    I stand correct Kelly. But if anyone thinks that is a good idea then you are borderline insane. To hand over terrorists and suspected terrorists to a dictatorial regime that itself supports terrorism is crazy. We might as well transport them to northern Pakistan ourselves and save Chavez the trouble.

  74. Doug Bayless
    May 26, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    Connor pointed out that many of us kinda thread-jacked the simple intent of his original blog post with our discussions of ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’ and even ‘Empire’ as we talk around the idea that Guantanamo has come to symbolize our government’s willingness to indefinitely detain suspects — under both Bush and Obama — and that doesn’t appear on track to changing.

    But it does, indeed, seem that many of these questions are all kinda of tied together.

    Of particular interest to me is the idea of benevolent ‘Empire’ that so many of my fellow statesman seem to have been seduced by. It seems that many otherwise simple moral questions (like Connor’s on ‘indefinite detention without due process’) are too easily trumped and dismissed by this ‘greater good’ card of ‘Pax Americana’.

    Again, I submit in the strongest possible terms that I do not believe in Pax Americana [a state of relative ‘world peace and stability’ enabled and protected by the benevolent American superpower]. First, I do not believe it is our role, destiny, or right to try to militarily police the affairs of other sovereign regions. Secondly, I know too much of human nature to believe that the entire US bureaucracy and leadership is always so free of self-interest, corruption, confusion, and error that we could ever pretend to wisely intervene in the affairs and relationships of all other governments and peoples on the planet.

    The run-up to our current Iraqi war should be a crystal clarification to any that assume our system allows us to (a) accurately assess all foreign intelligence reports, (b) act militarily without giving undue weight to our own national ambitions, or (c) always succeed in using a ‘firm hand’ to increase safety, stability, and freedom elsewhere in the world.

    To all who assume that we actively prevent and lessen the dangers of foreign attacks and terrorism by attempting to over-reach and unilaterally quell ‘unrest’ outside of our jurisdiction I would also submit that thousands of years of history argue quite convincingly against that idea.

    Two points of view come to mind (besides all the thought-provoking quotes in Connor’s new blog post on ‘renouncing war‘): the memoir of decorated General Smedley Butler: ‘War is a Racket’ (see the link) and also that of the influential former undersecretary of State J. Reuben Clark (yes, that J. Reuben Clark) who commented:

    “For America has a destiny – a destiny to conquer the world – not by force of arms, not by purchase and favor, for these conquests wash away, but by high purpose, by unselfish effort, by uplifting achievement, by a course of Christian living; a conquest that shall leave every nation free to move out to its own destiny; a conquest that shall bring, through the workings of our own example, the blessings of freedom and liberty to every people, without restraint or imposition or compulsion from us; a conquest that shall weld the whole earth together in one great brotherhood in a reign of mutual patience, forbearance, and charity, in a reign of peace to which we shall lead all others by the persuasion of our own righteous example.”

  75. Chris
    May 26, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    Doug,
    I’d be interested in know yours and other opinions on the fact that we have never nor any country for that matter even given due process to POW’s in a time of war. Let’s take the suspected and the few actually innocent people in Gitmo off the table for a second. What should we do with KMS, Zubayda, bin Al Shibh, and the other so called “Gitmo All-Stars.” They are all guilty but it is impossible to try them in civilian courts as I have explained several times now. Are you ok with military tribunals? If not what is your plan? Can we hold them forever or should we release them when the war is “over” or should we release them ASAP?

    Again, I submit in the strongest possible terms that I do not believe in Pax Americana [a state of relative ‘world peace and stability’ enabled and protected by the benevolent American superpower].
    I am not necessarily for us policing the world or in an empire. But don’t you think that we should at least try to stop the genocide where we can or another world war? Can we really just sit back and let the Middle East and Indian sub-continent go to hell? What is your plan once we end our overseas empire to ensure not only our own security and the ever utopian dream of world peace? To think that if we stop interfering and policing the world entirely that terrorism will cease and the world will be a better place overall I think is naïve.

    To all who assume that we actively prevent and lessen the dangers of foreign attacks and terrorism by attempting to over-reach and unilaterally quell ‘unrest’ outside of our jurisdiction I would also submit that thousands of years of history argue quite convincingly against that idea.
    Of course over reaching and arrogance of our own power and influence is stupid. If we always act multilaterally are you ok with action then? Like for example the Korean War that was oked by the UN and many nations participated in. Don’t focus on the war itself I am just trying to understand when it is ok to do something and what is the criteria. I am not arguing your last point about “thousands of years of history” but am interested what things you are specifically implying.
    The J. Reuben Clark quote was great. I think we should focus more on setting the example and everything else he said. But sometimes the example of our brave men & women risking their lives for others to give them a chance at freedom is an equally powerful example. Look at Georgia and many of the former Soviet satellite states for what our good example and dedication to democracy and freedom reaps when applied prudently and they take the good and don’t belabor the bad.

  76. Doug Bayless
    May 26, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    Chris,

    As many have noted here, your comments are appreciated and duly noted even if you sometimes seem under-represented on this particular subject.

    As for POW’s, I guess my off-the-top-of-my-head reaction would be that my understanding of what constituted a POW in most other wars that we might compare to is quite different from what constitutes a ‘detainee’ in our [often] secret prison systems (and Guantanamo isn’t even one of the ‘secret’ ones). In the old days of visually allowing a group of combatants to surrender and then deciding what to do with them I think you had a much less complex moral dilemma. My — perhaps misinformed — understanding is that many of the people we detain are hunted down based on ‘informers’ and / or ‘purchased’ outright from bounty hunters. It isn’t often the kind of thing where there is a ‘high value’ suspect that we use those types of resources to find, either. It is more often the complete reverse where people come to us and suggest that we should recompense them for causing us to suspect people we never suspected before. That’s my major concern.

    On the other hand, I don’t know that the past treatment of POW’s has always been so Christian and exemplary either. But I would say it is moot (even if we could find common ground on what to do with actual POW’s — which I figure we could) since the big picture is that we are talking about a documented ‘witch-hunt’ type collection system and that’s really the bigger problem.

    One thing on which I’m figuring we would both agree is that it’s tragic that extremely poor decisions in that realm are producing so much distraction from what to do with detainees that we *do* have good reason to believe were involved with actual terrorism against our nation. But that is just one more reason to speak out against the current system of ‘witch-hunts’ and interminable detention without due process. If I was more cynical I’d even start questioning the ‘Cui bono?’ of such a system . . . you know ‘who benefits?’ When you can’t bring terrorists to justice and instead start rounding up whole villages of people and then spreading the resultant insanity to nation after nation . . . but really, I’m *trying* to stay more pragmatic than that and just go after the facts that I have access to.

    Finally, you are correct in suggesting that is naïve and counter-productive to suggest that terrorism will cease if we stop interfering in the world. I *do* believe that we would find less hate-based terror directed against our nation and that would be good. I am certain that there will always be, however, pirate-type selfish based evil and terrorism in the world. I simply want to speak out against my nation ever committing the kind of crimes that turn ‘good’ people into motivated vengeful ‘freedom fighters’. I think there is sufficient evil in the world without encouraging moral ambiguousness. Two wrongs never make a right. When we bomb areas full of innocent people to ‘send a message’ or — worse yet, inadvertently or based on a system that favors ‘false informers’ — it does not strike me as the wisest, most moral, or even most pragmatic road we would want our nation’s foreign policy on . . .

    All that said, I *do* agree that we still have a rich history of good in the world to celebrate. The greatest desire of my heart [for our nation] is that we continue in those roles and constantly self-evaluate to make certain our actions and understandings are true and helpful. I still believe we can and should.

  77. Doug Bayless
    May 26, 2009 at 11:58 am #

    Just a explanation of my knee-jerk comment:

    I don’t know that the past treatment of POW’s has always been so Christian and exemplary either

    Some of my only knowledge of ‘how a POW camp might work’ comes from recent reading on the U.S. Civil War. One book was describing some of the worst camps (on both sides): over-packed with human chattel, under-supported in terms of food and water and exposure to the elements, and sometimes headed by seriously sadistic men who responded to their difficult charge by encouraging the mass deaths of already sickened prisoners. The interesting thing for me was that here were these camps full of people not divided by ambiguities of ethnicity or religion [the type of thing that normally allows for easier dehumanization of a war-time enemy] They were clearly ‘sons and husbands’, ‘fathers and brothers’ who had been recruited to ‘defend their homeland’ and now found themselves dying of non-glorious causes like dysentery and exposure. Nevertheless, they had actually signed up to kill their captors and now they were just waiting for a hopeful mass prisoner exchange, the end of the war, or an ignoble death in the camp.

    What to do with POW’s seems an age-old conundrum but I thought the US had signed to the ‘Geneva conventions’ as an acknowledgment of the difficulty of it all . . .

    It is another reason I hope we become more ‘picky and choosy’ as to when to actually undertake military action in the future than we seem to have been in the recent past.

  78. Chris
    May 26, 2009 at 1:04 pm #

    Chris,
    As many have noted here, your comments are appreciated and duly noted even if you sometimes seem under-represented on this particular subject.
    I thank you for the compliment and I was just joshing when I mentioned that I am usually the only contrarian. I am fine with it. School just got out and I am just being lazy this week so I have some time to kill if you haven’t noticed, ha ha. I do wonder why more people with my point of view don’t comment on this blog. It is very interesting and has a ton of smart and reasonable people, including you.

    As for POW’s, I guess my off-the-top-of-my-head reaction would be that my understanding of what constituted a POW in most other wars that we might compare to is quite different from what constitutes a ‘detainee’ in our [often] secret prison systems (and Guantanamo isn’t even one of the ’secret’ ones).

    True. Former POW’s were uniformed people that mostly followed the rule of law and war while terrorists are not in uniform and have no respect for laws nor human life.

    My — perhaps misinformed — understanding is that many of the people we detain are hunted down based on ‘informers’ and / or ‘purchased’ outright from bounty hunters.

    You might be right. I don’t know of any official/credible report that indicates when, where, and why these people were detained. I think it is probably a mix of both “hunted down” people and people caught on the “battlefield.” The first I am skeptical of because of our history of bad intelligence and secrecy but for the second I am far more trusting and that is the group I have been trying to focus on for most of this blog. Too many people have tried to make this into a black and white discussion. I think there is a lot of gray.

    One thing on which I’m figuring we would both agree is that it’s tragic that extremely poor decisions in that realm are producing so much distraction from what to do with detainees that we *do* have good reason to believe were involved with actual terrorism against our nation.

    I agree. The problem is in any war or police action if you like mistakes will be made. But look at it this way. There is a lot of controversy of Bush’s failure to connect the dots leading up to 9/11. Some people argue the LIHOP & MIHOP both I believe are just crazy but that is another discussion. If we were attacked again by a person or a group we suspected for months of being involved in terrorism and didn’t do anything to stop them, the people would go crazy. It is a very tricky and complex issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly. That is a point I think needs serious consideration when criticizing our policies. I like to believe that most people in government enact security policy based on what they believe to be best and not for revenge or evil purposes. Hopefully I am not too naïve in this belief.

    But that is just one more reason to speak out against the current system of ‘witch-hunts’ and interminable detention without due process.

    I also think our current system has major flaws. I don’t think we’ll ever have a flawless system or a system that we cannot criticize for one reason or another. We do need to fix it especially in fighting terrorism but I’d rather hold a guilty terrorist forever than give them a chance to get released based on a technicality. Again the suspected and innocent people system needs to get fixed and immediately but I think it starts in the intelligence area and the decision to pick someone up in the beginning to prevent future mistakes.

    I *do* believe that we would find less hate-based terror directed against our nation and that would be good.

    You are probably right that they’ll be one reason piñata for the UN and other nations to complain about but I don’t think it will change the great majority of people’s minds about us. I think Gitmo is just an excuse to defend their hatred and aggressive actions against us and not the reason for it. You don’t see people going crazy about all the horrible things that China, Russia, N. Korea, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and dozens of other countries that are doing far, far worse. A little consistency in the world community especially the UN would make me actually care what they think a bit more.

    When we bomb areas full of innocent people to ’send a message’ or — worse yet, inadvertently or based on a system that favors ‘false informers’ — it does not strike me as the wisest, most moral, or even most pragmatic road we would want our nation’s foreign policy on . . .

    To my knowledge this has never happened during the War on Terror. Mistakes have been made and innocent people have been killed which is always unfortunate but it is normal for war. Every veteran I have talked to about this would has told me that they go out of their way to not offend or hurt civilians. We should as you stated not rely so much on “false informers” but I can’t judge that because I am not privy to the intel provided and the history of that informer etc.

    Your Civil War comment was right on. Andersonville is the most infamous of prisons during the war and the commander was actually found guilty and executed for his mistreatment of prisoners. He was the only one to be executed for this crime during the war. It still is controversial to many historians whether he was really guilty or not.

    What to do with POW’s seems an age-old conundrum but I thought the US had signed to the ‘Geneva conventions’ as an acknowledgment of the difficulty of it all . . .

    Yes but the Geneva Conventions specifically states that terrorists are not covered under the treaty. This does not mean we can treat them however we want but it does mean that there is a difference under international and US law between a POW and a terrorist.

    It is another reason I hope we become more ‘picky and choosy’ as to when to actually undertake military action in the future than we seem to have been in the recent past.

    I agree. A bit more prudence in DC about war and everything to be honest would be a great idea. Especially war.

  79. Yin
    May 29, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    General Petraeus did an interview where he says he wants Gitmo shut down, no waterboarding/torture used, and terrorists tried in our court system.

    The Republicans put him on a pedestal then… how about now? His ever word was made nearly canonical by establishment elites.. no doubt that won’t be the case anymore!

    Oh, and he also asserts that there have been terrorists who have used Gitmo as a rallying cry in their fight against our troops, something that an earlier commenter (I think Chris?) claimed was not factual.

  80. Chris
    May 29, 2009 at 11:56 pm #

    Yin,
    Not exactly what he said. When talking about the “ticking time bomb” scenario, “There might be an exception and that would require extraordinary but very rapid approval to deal with, but for the vast majority of the cases, our experience downrange if you will, is that the techniques that are in the Army Field Manual that lays out how we treat detainees, how we interrogate them — those techniques work, that’s our experience in this business.” Sounds a lot like my position except for the Army Field Manual stuff. Used sparingly and only with Presidential approval when a threat is imminent.

    I would also like to see Gitmo closed but since there isn’t a better place to put them as I have pointed out then we might as well keep them there. His words were “closed responsibly.” He didn’t give a timeline and had no alternative.
    “…used by the enemy against us.” Doesn’t exactly make your point. I stated that it has been used against us as propaganda but in and off itself is not the cause of terrorism.
    Also, I wouldn’t take legal advice from a general. No matter how much I respect that general. Most of the terrorists would be released if tried in civilian courts.

  81. Kelly W.
    May 30, 2009 at 5:55 am #

    Here’s a cut and paste of what Petraeus thinks about closing Guantanamo. (below)

    Last week, Gen. David Petraeus told Radio Free Europe that he supports President Obama’s decision to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and that he opposes the use of so-called “enhance interrogation techniques.” “I have long been on record as having testified and also in helping write doctrine for interrogation techniques that are completely in line with the Geneva Convention,” Petraeus said.

    Today in an interview with Fox News, Petraeus reiterated his support for a “responsible closure” of Gitmo but went a bit further, noting that the prison has been harmful to the U.S.:

    PETRAEUS: Gitmo has caused us problems, there’s no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has indeed been used by the enemy against us. We have not been without missteps or mistakes in our activities since 9/11. And again, Gitmo is a lingering reminder for the use of some in that regard.

    As Fox host Martha MacCallum went through most of the right-wing talking points on Gitmo and torture (Gitmo terrorists will “go free” in the U.S, torture works and should be used for the “ticking-time bomb” scenario) Petraeus knocked them down one-by-one. “I don’t think we should be afraid to live our values,” Petraeus repeatedly said.

    Seemingly referring to Obama’s decision to release the Bush-era memos documenting President Bush’s torture program, MacCallum asked, “So is sending this signal that we’re not going to use the techniques anymore, what impact will that have on those who do us harm in the field that you operate in?” Again, Petraeus noted that such policies and techniques harm the U.S.

    PETRAEUS: What I would ask is, does that not take away from our enemies a tool, which again they have beaten us around the head and shoulders in the court of public opinion? When we have taken steps that have violated the Geneva Convention, we rightly have been criticized. And so as we move forward, I think it is important to again live our values to live the agreements that we have made in the international justice arena and to practice those.

  82. Connor
    June 1, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    An update:

    Most of the 240 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison when President Barack Obama took office were low-level fighters, with only 24 considered to be involved in plots against the United States, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

    Read more.

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