Torture

"They say this is a different kind of war," Tony Lagouranis says. "Different rules for terrorists. Total crap."

Lagouranis was a military intelligence specialist in Iraq until he was honorably discharged due to "adjustment disorder." That seems to be a military psychologist's euphemism for still having his conscience and humanity mostly intact.

I've written before about the toll our nation's embrace of torture takes on the men and women ordered to carry it out. Laura Blumenfeld of The Washington Post puts a human face on this toll in "The Tortured Lives of Interrogators."

Blumenfeld tells Lagouranis' story alongside the stories of two other former interrogators. The other two, "James" and "Sheriff," worked for the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland and for Shin Bet, the Israeli security service. Unlike Lagouranis, James and Sheriff convey a cocky bravado, insisting that they have no qualms about the "verschärfte vernehmung"* they employed. James and Sheriff doth protest too much. They come across as deeply troubled, haunted, FUBAR.

"I've got a clean conscience because I rarely use it," Sheriff says. It comes across like a man in a wheelchair boasting that that his legs are not suffering from overuse.

Lagouranis may have gotten out in time to keep his own conscience from atrophying the way Sheriff's has. He realizes that he, like the people he was ordered to interrogate, has come away damaged:

Not the things I saw, but the things I did. You keep saying 'torturing the innocent,' but the two brothers I tortured were guilty. It doesn't mean you should torture them.

That word "should" denotes a moral imperative: You should not torture. Or in the familiar language of the King James Bible, Thou shalt not torture.

Such moral language strikes some as irrelevant. The question for them is not whether or not one should employ torture, but whether or not one needs to. This appeal to necessity is precisely what Sheriff relies on as an opiate to numb his fading conscience. "You leave us no choice," he would say to his victims.

The problem with this, of course, is that torture does not work. It produces misinformation. Practitioners of torture end up knowing less than they knew before. Worse, they can end up thinking they know all sorts of things that are not true. This "works" only if their only goal is to produce false confessions** or to serve as a deterrent, intimidating (i.e. terrorizing) others.

Members of the Intelligence Science Board underscored this point in their recent testimony to Congress. (Their (long) full report is available as a .pdf: "Educing Information: Interrogation: Science and Art.") From the article linked above:

President Bush has insisted that those secret “enhanced” techniques are crucial, and he is far from alone. The notion that turning up pressure and pain on a prisoner will produce valuable intelligence is a staple of popular culture from the television series “24” to the recent Republican presidential debate, where some candidates tried to outdo one another in vowing to get tough on captured terrorists. …

But some of the experts involved in the interrogation review, called “Educing Information,” say that during World War II, German and Japanese prisoners were effectively questioned without coercion.

“It far outclassed what we’ve done,” said Steven M. Kleinman, a former Air Force interrogator and trainer, who has studied the World War II program of interrogating Germans. … Mr. Kleinman, who worked as an interrogator in Iraq in 2003, called the post-Sept. 11 efforts “amateurish” by comparison.

I'm inclined to side with Kleinman on the value of looking to America's World War II program as a model. After all, America won that war. Instead, we've been taking as our models the interrogation programs of the Soviet Union and the methods people like Sheriff have employed in the West Bank. Just think about that for a moment: the "Evil Empire" and the poster-child for neverending hostility have become our models for freedom and security. Somewhere in the White House or the Pentagon, someone actually said, "Let's copy what they're doing in the West Bank, because that sure seems to be working."

So torture is morally corrosive and ineffective and, as the example of the West Bank illustrates, it leads to your own military defeat.

Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar make all of these points in their op-ed, "It's Our Cage, Too: Torture Betrays Us and Breeds New Enemies." Krulak is a former commandant of the Marine Corps. Hoar is a former commander in chief of U.S. Central Command. They write of the "disastrous consequences" of the Bush administration's embrace of torture, saying it has:

… nurtured the recuperative power of the enemy. This war will be won or lost not on the battlefield but in the minds of potential supporters who have not yet thrown in their lot with the enemy. If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy. This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it.

So torture is ineffective and corrosive, and a certain path to military defeat. On the other hand …

There is no other hand. Torture is ineffective and corrosive, and a certain path to military defeat. Everyone knows this.

So given that, why on earth does anyone pretend that this is something we should accept or approve? What's the attraction? Why are Republican presidential candidates so desperate "to outdo one another" in embracing despicable and counterproductive measures? What is it about "ineffective and corrosive" that people like Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani fail to understand? What is it they find so attractive about certain defeat?

Here are the fools on parade in a recent Republican presidential debate:

What is wrong with these people?

- – - – - – - – - – - –

* Or "enhanced interrogations." This is the Bush administration's preferred phrase. The name comes from the Gestapo. The tactics come from the Soviet Union.

** If the goal is a false confession, of course, torture is still an inefficient and unnecessary step. Simple forgery will produce a result that is just as credible as a signed confession produced under coercion and duress. This leads me to suspect, again, that the real reason for this use of torture — for any use of torture — is that those who order it enjoy it. Are George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo really such fools that they do not know that torture is ineffective and self-defeating? Or are they simply monsters?

  • aunursa

    pecunium:
    I’ve seen that sort of game before. It almost always turns out to be someone trying to paint a corner, or move the goalposts. Refining the definitions until the person asking for defintions can pull a “gotcha”.
    I find your response fascinating. I demand definitions for the very reason that, absent an agreed-upon definition, there are no goalposts. Without a specific and measurable definition, one cannot determine whether or not a particular technique is torture. You cannot make a legitimate accusation regarding torture until you define the term. Otherwise — along the lines of “one man’s terrorist…” — one man’s “torture” is another man’s “interrogation”.
    So, here’s my definition. Any physical or mental coercion. It’s simple, straightforward and lifted from FM 27-10 Law of Land Warfare. That is, in short, the Army’s operating definition of torture.
    You linked to a table of contents. Please provide the specific section that contains that definition.
    As for Tenet: Since all he’s done is assertion that useful information was gotten, his word matters to me no more than your repetition of his claims does, that is not at all; since it flies in the face of a couple of hundred years of evidence. One man, with an interest in other people believing torture works, vs. data collected from across the world.
    If I understand you correctly, what you’re saying is that you a priori reject any new testimony that differs from evidence you’ve previously studied.
    Jeff:
    American authorities gained valuable information as a result of administering the controversial interrogation techniques
    Every single intellegence officer to date has said this is bunk.
    Brian Ross of ABC, who has interviewed intelligence officers, begs to differ.
    a definition of torture
    The Geneva Convention. How many times do you need to be told?
    The Geneva Convention definition differs from the one pecunium posted above. Which one is correct?
    I believe Olbermann (and, to a lesser extent Franken and Moore) becuase they use pesky things called “facts” and “sources”. They don’t just make stuff up for the hell of it.
    O’Reilly’s, Limbaugh’s, and Coulter’s worshippers would say the same thing about their heroes — that they tell the truth. Tell me, do you ever research Olbermann’s, Franken’s and Moore’s claims to see if they haven’t twisted the facts or left out any relevant material? Or do you just swallow what they preach hook, line, and sinker?
    But you’re saying O’Reilly, Limbaugh and Coulter are exactly the same as Olbermann, Frankin and Moore.
    I never said nor intended to imply that. I find five of them repulsive, but not necessarily for the same reasons.

  • aunursa

    BTW, I won’t be back until Sunday (due to the Jewish Sabbath.) Fire away!

  • Jeff

    Every single intelligence officer to date has said this is bunk.
    Brian Ross of ABC … begs to differ.
    Gee, who to believe? Decisions, decisions, decisions. Meanwhile, I’ll start to believe Tenet when he gets on his knees and earnestly begs forgiveness for accepting the Medal of Freedom from the men he now claims lied about his statements (“piece of cake”, indeed).

  • pecunium

    But even without defining torture, you keep moving the goalposts, your version is a tautology, you favor harsh questioning which doesn’t move to the bounds of torture. Ok, fine, you’ve set terms, but you refuse to define what you mean by torture, and don’t like the definitions offered because you feel they encompass more than torture.
    When you set one aspect of the rules, you either cough up the rest, or cede the right to others. But you refuse to do either, which means you aren’t engaging in honest debate. You are playing gotcha.
    Which game goes on when you decide I’m not going to accept new evidence. The fact is I’ve not seen any, because you’ve not offered any. Tenet, and the reports of Brian Ross; which you laud so highly, aren’t offering evidence. They are making unsupported assertions.
    They say that some plots, which they can’t divulge, were foiled by some “harsh questioning” (which is a pleasant enough sounding euphimism, why parents subject their children to harsh questioning all the time, and cops yell at suspects, no one gets hurt. Harsh questioning can’t be all that bad).
    But the only plots we hear about are plots that didn’t happen before the guy was captured.
    Or they are classified. And the specific methods of this, “harsh questioning” can’t be divulged because that will let “the enemy” know what we do and they will train themselves to be immune to it.
    So we don’t know what plots were foiled, and we don’t know how the info was gotten.
    You, however, are willing to call that evidence, and to tell me I should chuck the things I’ve studied, seen, had related to me; by people who actually told me what they did, or was done to them, the reports of the Inquisition, the comparative nature of confessions to witchcraft in England; where tortur of accused witches was prohibited, and on the Continent, where they could be tortured, the comments of Hans Scharff (interrogator of the 8th AF for the Luftwaffe in WW2, all of it, because one guy; who has a dog in the fight; and runs the risk of disgrace and prison if his dog should lose, and some shadowy sorts who also have an axe to grind; since they’ve committed torture and might have a vested interest in convincing themselves, if not others, that it was for a good cause that they did terrible things.
    Why, pray tell are those few people supposed to outweigh all the rest (including my personal experiences)? Why shouldn’t I put them in the same category as oil company climatologists who tell me the earth isn’t in any danger from greenhouse gasess?
    Me, I’m going with the preponderence of evidence (which actually rises to the level of being beyond a reasonable doubt).
    Since you seem to be either unable, or too lazy, to use the table of contents, and look through Chapter 3 Prisoners of War, and then to use the search function of your computer to find section
    93. Questioning of Prisoners
    Every prisoner of war, when questioned on the subject, is bound to give only his surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this equivalent information.
    If he wilfully infringes this rule, he may render himself liable to a restriction of the privileges accorded to his rank or status.
    Each Party to a conflict is required to furnish the persons under its jurisdiction who are liable to become prisoners of war, with an identity card showing the owner’s surname, first names, rank, army, regimental, personal or serial number or equivalent information, and date of birth. The identity card may, furthermore, bear the signature or the fingerprints, or both, of the owner, and may bear, as well, any other information the Party to the conflict may wish to add concerning persons belonging to its armed forces. As far as possible the card shall measure 6.5 x 10 cm. and shall be issued in duplicate. The identity card shall be shown by the prisoner of war upon demand, but may in no case be taken away from him.
    ,u>No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.
    Pretty cut and dried.
    For those who aren’t prisoners, the term is, “protected person.” There are two other categories, Detained person, and criminal, though the last two only apply to people in an occupied country, while hostilities are still in effect. The last is for persons who break the laws of the occupied territory, which aren’t allowed to be changed by the belligerents, but I digress.
    For Protected persons, which might have been a little harder to find, it being under Chaper 5, Civilian Persons.
    270. Prohibition of Coercion
    a. Treaty Provision.
    No physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against protected persons, in particular to obtain information from them or from third parties.b. Guides. Among the forms of coercion prohibited is the impressment of guides from the local inhabitants.
    271. Prohibition of Corporal Punishment, Torture, Etc.
    The High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their hands. This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishment, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treatment of a protected person, but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents. (GC, art. 32.)
    Oh yeah, nowhere in the Conventions, with one exception, is anyone not considered a POW, protected, or detained person. Criminals are detained persons.
    The exception is for a class of persons who are retained. Those are persons (medical, religious) who are only to be kept so long as the prisoners need them. If they are not needed to minister to prisoners, they are to be immediately returned to their own forces. For medical personnel, this includes the staff, not just the doctors.
    Nowhere is there any clause which creates, names, cancels the rights of, or in any other way unprotects, “unlawful enemy combatants.” In particular, because of the various resistance and partisan activities of WW2, the classes of people who were entitled to the more desireable category of POW, was enlarged.

  • pecunium

    Where, just looking at the Olberman site, did he say, “we need to kill off all the liberals, saving just enough to have a couple at every university to show the students” (Limbaugh).
    “Someone ought to poison his (I forget which Supreme Court Justice) creme brulee” (Coulter).
    “The only mistake McVeigh made was not driving to the NYT.” (Coulter).
    There’s more, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
    Show me the equivalant phrases, the places where the people you are holding up as comparable, are calling for people to be killed, forcible converted, imprisoned (for things they do, and think are somehow different; even though, when they were arrested, and plead guilty, they got a slap on the wrist), and the like.
    When you can show me those, then I’ll grant the people you seem to dislike so much, are in the same league as the others.
    Then again, I don’t see Franken, Olberman and the like having the VP on their show, or being paid millions of dollars a year to speak at public events for the Democratic Party, or being given an hour a night of Prime Time television to spread white supremecist lies.
    So they still aren’t really in the same leage, at most (if you can provide the equivalent quotations) they are AA, while Bill, Ann and Rush are in the Majors.

  • Jeff

    pecunium: O’Reilly also said that San Francisco deserved to be bombed by Al Quida. I don’t feel like getting the exact quote, but it was pretty hateful.
    Just in case Mr Falafel was the one who made aunursa’s heart go pitty-pat.

  • aunursa

    pecunium,
    Ok, fine, you’ve set terms, but you refuse to define what you mean by torture, and don’t like the definitions offered because you feel they encompass more than torture.
    IIRC, the only definition in which I expressed my personal opinion is that found in the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:
    For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
    The only quibble I had with this definition was that I was not sure whether the definition should exclude mental pain and suffering. I also challenged Jesurgislac, suggesting that she could not provide support from any international authority for her claim that torture includes any act that elicits humiliation or suffering.
    When you set one aspect of the rules, you either cough up the rest, or cede the right to others. But you refuse to do either, which means you aren’t engaging in honest debate.
    The game doesn’t work that way. When one side introduces a term that is controversial or non-specific, then it the responsibility of that side to provide a definition. For example, when abortion opponents claim that abortion is murder of a human life, then it is the responsibility of those opponents to define “human life.” Supporters of abortion rights are under no such obligation to provide a definition of life. Only after a definition of “life” is on the table, must the other side agree with the definition or express objections. Same with torture — if you introduce the subject of torture, and claim that certain interrogation techniques are wrong because they are torture, then it’s up to you to provide a definition so that it can be applied to any specific technique.
    93. Questioning of Prisoners
    No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.
    Nothing in this section defines torture. All that can be deduced from that statement is that torture includes acts that involve either physical coercion or mental coercion (or both.) It does not say (as you seem to infer) that any and all acts that involve physical or mental coercion constitute torture. In fact, since such coercive actions as threats, insults, and unpleasant treatment are specifically prohibited in addition to torture, it can be argued that this section presumes that such actions are not torture.
    pecunium, do you agree with the definition in the UN Convention?

  • aunursa

    Show me the equivalant phrases, the places where the people you are holding up as comparable, are calling for people to be killed, forcible converted, imprisoned (for things they do, and think are somehow different; even though, when they were arrested, and plead guilty, they got a slap on the wrist), and the like.
    That’s a fair statement.
    Jeff:
    O’Reilly also said that San Francisco deserved to be bombed by Al Quida. I don’t feel like getting the exact quote, but it was pretty hateful.
    Here is the actual quote, in context.
    And yes, to answer everyone’s question, I find Limbaugh and Coulter repulsive.

  • Jeff

    “You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead”
    That’s not repulsive? Ugh. And you still haven’t found ANY equivalent from Olbermann. [Shun]

  • Jesurgislac

    Pecunium, I’ve been through this argument in an entire thread with Aunursa, and I am overcome with weariness at the thought of doing it again. Aunursa supports torture: Aunursa is willing to quibble endlessly about whether or not the torture techniques he thinks he can live with are “really” torture (though as he has neither had those techniques inflicted on him, nor had to inflict those techniques on someone else, his idea of “can live with” is fantasy): Aunursa gets his ideas about whether torture “works” from TV, and thinks that torture can be justified because it “works”. Arguing with Aunursa on this is like arguing with a fantasy of a ghost: there is no connection anywhere with reality.

  • pecunium

    Jesrgislac: Yeah, I know. I saw in the last thread, and ought to have quit the post before last. But this is one of my particular windmills. It’s not as if I have any hope of pointing out to him that his, “I support harsh questioning that doesn’t rise to torture, and my definitions of torture aren’t going to be made public, because it’s up to you people who say that torture so wrong that it’s never acceptable to prove that what I won’t admit to approving is, “real” torture.”
    As I said, Auniursa supports torture. He moves the goalposts, plays the “definition” game (as evidenced above, where he refuses the definitions I provided, asking if I accept the one’s he,”offered” (though with odd caveats they they allow “other forms” of coercion, because they detailed examples of prohibited behavior, ergo the list was exclusive of only those means. A case of defining what, “is” is.). Mind you, if I say I accept them, he will call me a hypocrite, because I already gave a definition which is clear, concise and not the same.
    If I stick to my guns, some sanctimony accusing me of not bowing to the almight court of the U.N., will come spilling forth.
    He accepts the words of a small number of the self-interested, refusing to believe that innocents will suffer, that the data stream will be corrupted, the people made to do the tortures will be broken, that society will be corroded; those few are deemed to be of more value than all other testimony; be it ever so detailed, long-term, and empirical; spanning centuries and including one group which wasn’t trying to save lives (noble enough) but was in the business of saving souls. In that light it would seem torturing a false confession out of someone shouldn’t be such a big deal. Those who weren’t guilty would still go to heaven, and those who were had been absolved.
    But all of that is as nothing to him.
    Why? The only thing I can think of is that he is dying the thousand deaths of the coward. The ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night have unmanned him; turning his knees to water and leading him to abandon morality, charity and belief in the rule of law, that he might take comfort in the, vain, belief that something can be done to keep that nameless dread at bay.
    That he equates Micheal Moore, Keith Olberman, and Al Franken to Coulter, Limbaugh, Malkin, O’Reilly, Savage, etc., says a lot. It parallels his belief in torture as a useful tool, a willingness to accept a false equivalence, where our guys (in Viet-nam) didn’t give up useful intel, and were abused long past any ability to provide information; but we always get good stuff, and can manage to do so years after the subject was known to be captured.
    Me, I’m a realist. I accept that torture doesn’t work. I accept that we aren’t going to get every scrap of info from a prisoner (though I believe, with some solid evidence to support it, that good interrogation will get far more information, in a shorter period of time, and with better verification, than torture would, even if we accept the models of torture-mongers like Aunursa; because I don’t have to worry about the positive feedback loops which arise from it, the bad information which gets into the stream and then has to be sifted out, and the delay which torture creates by reminding the subject of any anti-interrogation training can ever hope to collect).
    I can live with that, the same way I live with the risks of earthquake, fire and lightning strike. I accept that the convenience of driving means I might be in accident.
    Those four risks are all greater for me (tornado, flood, hurricane and the like aren’t real risks where I live) than terrorism.
    Murder at the hands of stranger is more likely too (I’ve known three people who were murdered, and have one acquaintance who just got paroled for killing someone).
    But I’m not going to give the police the tools of torture to get confessions. The tools they have now are more than adequate to gain false confessions; why should I sacrifice justice to get some sort of false comfort from having people locked up?
    I want the guilty caught. I want the actual people who are killing others to be removed from being a threat to the community. I don’t think it serves the commonweal to lock up innocents, and leave the guilty on the street.
    When it comes to terrorism, it’s worse, because locking up the wrong murderer doesn’t make more murderers, but torturing the wrong terrorists does make more terrorists. So I might be against torture on purely pragmatic grounds.
    But Aunursa rejects all of this, because, for whatever reason, he wants to believe torture works.
    I give up. Those here, who needed arguments to support themselves against the torture-mongers, have all I can give right now. Fighting this crap is exhausting. It affects my personal life, making me cranky, moody, depressive and short-tempered. If I’m going to do that to myself,and my loved ones, I ought to be spending my time in places where I’m more needed.

  • pecunium

    Jesurgislac: Apologies for not noticing my typo of your name. It (and majikthise) give my eyes fits.
    Mea culpa.

  • aunursa

    As I said, Auniursa supports torture. He moves the goalposts, plays the “definition” game (as evidenced above, where he refuses the definitions I provided, asking if I accept the one’s he,”offered” (though with odd caveats they they allow “other forms” of coercion, because they detailed examples of prohibited behavior, ergo the list was exclusive of only those means. A case of defining what, “is” is.). Mind you, if I say I accept them, he will call me a hypocrite, because I already gave a definition which is clear, concise and not the same.
    If I understand correctly then, the definition of torture that you have offered is, “any physical or mental coercion.” My point above was that, like it or not, this definition is not provided in the U.S. Army’s Field Manual 27-10 as you had claimed. Absent the acceptance of any recognized authority, I must conclude that it is your personal definition. I cited the UN Convention definition that Jesurgislac had earlier provided because it comes from a recognized international authority. You don’t like it — so be it. Unfortunately it appears that you and your cheering section are more interested in attacking me than in defending your position.
    pecunium and Jesurgislac — you hate the fact that someone calls on you to defend arguments that you assume are self-evident. You repeatedly misrepresent my arguments and you attribute to me ridiculous opinions that bear no resemblance to my actual views. When forced to support your arguments, you cite authorities (UN Convention or US Army Field Manual) that, when examined, do not say what you claim they say … and do not support your arguments. In exasperation (because, let’s face it, how dare someone challenge you on such an cut-and-dry issue), you attack your opponent as a coward, a torture-monger, someone who delights in the suffering of others, all so that you can pat yourselves on the back as moral and enlightened realists.
    It was never about trying to ‘catch’ you as a hypocrite … or in trying to ‘move a goalline.’ It has always been about agreeing on an definition. I firmly believe that most of our disagreements would melt away if we could forge such an definition. Alas, it appears that you have different objectives.
    Al Franken on Letterman, jokes about the execution of Rove and Libby You can rest easy that apparently your heroes Olbermann and Moore haven’t joked about the untimely demise of their political opponents. At any rate I find them and Limbaugh and Coulter repulsive for a number of other reasons.
    P.S. Given your aversion to the expression of delight at the thought of someone else’s death (an aversion that I share,) I trust that you never visit the comments section of such sites as Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and Democratic Underground. (Instructive exercise: compare the respective reactions of the left-wing and right-wing blogs to the news of Elizabeth Edwards’ and Tony Snow’s cancer, both announced in the same week.
    P.P.S. These are examples of torture.

  • aunursa

    “You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead”
    That’s not repulsive?
    Jeff, did you by chance read it in context? Do you understand the point he was trying to make? Are you familiar with the relationship between the city of San Francisco and the United States military?

  • pecunium

    Aunursa: You asked for my definitions, I gave them. You reject them.
    You offer tautolgies; accepting, “harsh questioning, which doesn’t rise to torture,” while not defining torture, other than to say those things which are defined as torture, don’t really count.
    You say that FM 27-10 doesn’t probibit coercion. Fine, show me coercion that doesn’t involve threats. Show me where refusal to answer more than “The big four” allows one to waterboard, chain to walls, deprive of sleep, expose to hyper; or hypo, thermia. Those are all things you’ve accepted, but you say they are ok because you say they aren’t torture.
    So you are more than willing to spend your time telling people what isn’t torture. Then, when called on it, when those who define it as torture say you advocate it, you say words are being put in your mouth.
    You ask for definitions. Then you say those defintions are inadequate, but you aren’t moving the goalpoasts, oh no; we are just failing to give an answer you like.
    You weasal, and dodge and call us simple-minded, or liars, and then complain that you are being abused when we’ve done what you asked.
    Well the back of my hand to you. I do this for a living. I’ve sat across the table from the people you think I ought to be, “not torturing.” If you don’t like my defintions, then put up, or shut up, because you are acting the coward. All bluff and bluster, but unwilling to put your hand to the wheel to do the dirty work you advocate.
    So, you can, most cordially, go to hell.

  • aunursa2

    You certainly are entitled to define “torture” as you see fit, just as Jesurgislac is entitled to define torture such that it includes “any acts that produce humiliation or disgust. I merely noted that the source to which you attributed your definition does not in fact provide such a definition. It is therefore, apparently, your personal definition.
    while not defining torture, other than to say those things which are defined as torture, don’t really count.
    Here’s a definition that comes from (gasp) a dictionary: infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion. Feel free to accept or reject it.
    So you are more than willing to spend your time telling people what isn’t torture.
    What I’m willing to do is provide a definition of torture and let the chips fall where they may. As opposed to my opponents, one of whom cites an authoritative source and then ignores the fact that her source did not support her position. Or the other, who read a definition into a source document that, when examined, does not provide such a definition.
    Then you say those defintions are inadequate,
    I don’t recall ever saying that your definition was inadequate. I said that the source you cited does not support it. Jesurgislac’s source does support her definition; her problem is that both the source and the definition do not support her position.

  • aunursa2

    So, you can, most cordially, go to hell.
    Did that make you feel better to tell me off? Good. Now do as Jesurgislac did … go back to your own blog to whine some more.

  • Jesurgislac

    What I’m willing to do is provide a definition of torture and let the chips fall where they may.
    Yet you have never done this. Despite having been repeatedly asked to do so. I expect you never will.

  • pecunium

    Did it make me feel better, no. But then again, I should know better than to expect reasonable conversation (much less actually honest interaction) from trolls. I lost my temper, and gave you the satisfaction of seeing it. My error. On the other hand, you accuse me of whining, which isn’t the case so we are, at worst, even. On balance I think I come out ahead, as (though you will protest) I’ve not misrepresented your positions, or actions.
    You don’t, at this point, get to use your definition (this is where the dishonest part of your “debate), because you’ve 1: not given them., and 2: don’t even live up to your standard.
    Using your definition, the things you accept, (water boarding, stress positions, sleep dep, temperature manipulation) are torture.
    You say they are reasonable.
    Ergo, you are; again, QED in favor of torture.
    You may spin it in any way you like, but at the end of the day, you want people to do what you define as torture.
    Your argument that my defnition isn’t supported (which is false, since coercion is prohibited, and there is no reservation which limits it to physical) is completely independant of your saying it isn’t torture.
    When you say those things aren’t torture, you are rejecting my definitions.
    Again, a dishonesty. You ask for defintions, then you reject them, asking for new definitions. My definitions don’t change. They are what they are.
    You, by my definitions, and by yours, say there are acceptable tortures.
    That makes you, as I said, a torture monger.
    I will go leave this thread, going back to my blog if I feel the need to further elaborate. You may return to the dark hollow beneath the bridge.

  • aunursa

    pecunium,
    I’ll ignore the ad hominem portions of your reply in an attempt to move the discussion forward. I cannot, however, overlook this statement:
    On balance I think I come out ahead, as (though you will protest) I’ve not misrepresented your positions, or actions.
    Previously you misrepresented my positions in each of the following statements:
    *************************************************************************************
    Aunursa is in favor of torture, has said it’s a positive good (that’s the only way I can read the comments which say that some innocents may be tortured, but it can be lived with.
    But even without defining torture, you keep moving the goalposts, your version is a tautology, you favor harsh questioning which doesn’t move to the bounds of torture. Ok, fine, you’ve set terms, but you refuse to define what you mean by torture, and don’t like the definitions offered because you feel they encompass more than torture.
    You, however, are willing to call that evidence, and to tell me I should chuck the things I’ve studied, seen, had related to me
    Mind you, if I say I accept them, he will call me a hypocrite
    He accepts the words of a small number of the self-interested, refusing to believe that innocents will suffer
    Aunursa: You asked for my definitions, I gave them. You reject them.
    *************************************************************************************
    (1) I never said nor suggested that it is acceptable for some innocents to be tortured **; (2) neither did I ever suggest that no innocents will suffer. (3) I never moved any goalposts. (4) I neither accepted nor rejected*** any definition offered. (5) I never said nor suggested that you should ignore your prior study of the subject — only that you should keep any open mind and be willing to examine new evidence. (6) Hypocrisy refers to condemning others for one’s own faults; it has nothing to do with reexamining one’s views or definitions.
    I challenge you to cite (date and quote) any post in which I stated any of those things. Since you will not be able to find any such post either on this thread or the BBCII thread, you owe me an apology … for misrepresenting my positions no fewer than six times.
    (I would also note that I do not support torture; your statements attributing to me support for torture are apparently based on your personal definition, and not on any recognized authority.)
    Using your definition, the things you accept, (water boarding, stress positions, sleep dep, temperature manipulation) are torture.
    Clearly that depends on the meaning of “severe.” (OH NO! Not another definition! This aunursa idiot is absolutely insane!!!)
    When determining what is considered severe, I would remind you of the extreme end of the infliction of pain spectrum.
    Your argument that my defnition isn’t supported (which is false, since coercion is prohibited, and there is no reservation which limits it to physical) is completely independant of your saying it isn’t torture.
    Since coercion is prohibited in addition to torture, by definition some coercion must not rise to the level of torture.
    ** In fact I explicitly stated: I am not okay with capturing and torturing innocent people [03/16/07] … and that the government should not capture and hold innocent people. [03/25/07]
    *** The only thing I questioned was whether the (UN Convention) definition should include mental pain and suffering.

  • aunursa

    Jesurgislac,
    What I’m willing to do is provide a definition of torture and let the chips fall where they may.
    Yet you have never done this. Despite having been repeatedly asked to do so. I expect you never will.
    Ummm … perhaps you missed the part of my post immediately preceding the sentence you quoted — the part in which I did provide such a definition.

  • Jesurgislac

    Ummm … perhaps you missed the part of my post immediately preceding the sentence you quoted — the part in which I did provide such a definition.
    So you did, and yes, I did – I apologize.
    So, pecunium’s right: the definition of torture you have yourself provided means you advocate torture.
    You claim that the pain inflicted by the methods of torture you have come out as supporting are not “severe” enough to merit calling these methods torture. (1) You are shifting goalposts: you declined to provide a definition of “severe”: and (2) given that you have neither inflicted nor experienced these torture techniques, how the holy hell would you know?

  • Jeff

    aunursa: Are you familiar with the relationship between the city of San Francisco and the United States military?
    I grew up 50 miles north of SF and am very familiar with the relationship between the military and SF. My dad worked at Mare Island, I’ve been to the Presidio, and, while I haven’t toured Hunter’s Point, I’m very aware of what they did there. SF has always had a pretty good relationship with the military, especially the Navy.
    But San Franciscans don’t tolerate liars, crooks or rapscallions. Moreover, they protect their children from predetors. The military had avquired the names and addresses of students as part of the Poor Children Left Behind Act. So this wasn’t just JROTC practicing on the football field, but an aggressive, invasive move by the military to boost its numbers by preying on teens. SF denied them that offensive behavior. And not one military base in or around SF reacted.
    Only your hero, Bill O’ Reilly, who decided that a memorial to firefighters should be blown up to satisfy HIS thirst for revenge. Nice.
    (For the longest time — about 40 years, I think — SF had an ordinance that no building could obscure Coit Tower. Then came the Transamerica “Pyramid” and now you can only see Coit Tower from the Bay. But it still stands — a firehose-shaped testament to the brave men who saved SF after the Great Fire.)
    Is that what you meant?

  • aunursa

    Jesurgislac,
    You claim that the pain inflicted by the methods of torture you have come out as supporting are not “severe” enough to merit calling these methods torture.
    Well actually I didn’t. You inferred that from my statement.
    (1) Shifting the goalposts doesn’t mean what you apparently think it means. It means to make a goal more difficult just as the goal is about to be reached. Shifting the goalposts would be applicable if, for instance, I had originally stated or accepted the definition, “infliction of physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion,” and then subsequently added the word “severe.”
    (2) If we were to poll 100 people at random and ask them to rank the following interogation techniques in terms which ones they would consider to be forms of severe pain:
    listening to Brittany Spears music
    listening to loud music
    sleep deprivation
    watching the Koran (or the Bible) being desecrated
    use of barking dogs
    humiliation or submission at the hands of a female interrogator
    waterboarding — simulation of drowning
    drilling holes in hands
    severing limbs
    dragging victims behind cars
    eye removal
    blowtorch to skin
    suspended from ceiling and electrocuted
    breaking limbs and restricted breathing
    binding and beating
    suspending and whipping
    clothes iron to skin
    head in a vice
    … which ones would be classified (by a majority of the 100 random people) as severe and which ones would not? Be honest.

  • aunursa

    Jeff,
    I am a fourth generation native San Franciscan. I have lived in the Bay Area all of my life. I have close relatives who live in the city, and I visit there often, most recently yesterday.
    In the past two years alone, the City has taken the following actions that can only be classified as anti-military:
    * Supervisor Chris Daly seeks to ban Fleet Week and the Blue Angels, a 25 year old city celebration. (6/07)
    * School board votes to eliminate the Junior ROTC, a 90 year-old program, over the objections of students and parents. (11/14/06)
    * Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval states on national cable television that the United States should not havae a military. When disbelieving co-host Alan Colmes asks Sandoval how the U.S. should defend itself, the supervisor replies that it should be left to the cops and coast guard. (4/6/06)
    * Voters pass Measure I, a non-binding measure that seeks to ban military recruiters from the City’s high schools, a direct challenge to the Solomon Amendment.
    * City supervisors reject the opportunity to become the homeport for the USS Iowa, a vessel that served in World War II and carried FDR home from a conference of allied leaders. (7/05)
    In addition the City has been the scene anti-war protests that have included the following messages:
    Support Resistance in Iraq, I Support the Iraqi Resistance, and Long Live Iraqi Resistance
    We Support Our Troops When They Shoot Their Officers
    Despite a long history of support for the military, San Francisco is now decidedly anti-military. By and large San Franciscans don’t support the troops. It’s gotten to the point that U.S. Senator and former mayor Dianne Feinstein told the Chronicle following the Iowa decision, “This isn’t the San Francisco that I’ve known and loved and grew up in and was born in.”
    If O’Reilly were saying that Coit Tower should be destroyed, he would have advocated that the military do it themselves. What he was saying is that the city that spits upon the military doesn’t deserve the protections that said soldiers provide it.

  • Jesurgislac

    Aunursa: Well actually I didn’t.
    Well, actually, you did. You said: “Clearly that depends on the meaning of ‘severe.’”
    if, for instance, I had originally stated or accepted the definition, “infliction of physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion,” and then subsequently added the word “severe.”
    Initially, you refused to give a definition at all. Then you argued that the UN definition of torture was wrong because it included torture techniques you had decided were not torture. Now you are arguing that torture techniques you can “live with” are not torture because the pain they inflict is not “severe” pain. Yes, Aunursa, you are moving goalposts.
    which ones would be classified (by a majority of the 100 random people) as severe and which ones would not?
    Do you always make your moral decisions based on what you think a poll of 100 random people would say?

  • 85% Duane

    No.. it has to be a poll of 100 random Jews.

  • bulbul

    No.. it has to be a poll of 100 random Jews.
    God forbid! It can’t be random, otherwise he’ll run the risk of the sample including people like Chomsky or Finkelstein. Or even our Jeff here.

  • 85% Duane

    How about 100 random Zionists?

  • bulbul

    How about 100 random Zionists?
    These days? Not even that would be a safe bet.

  • 85% Duane

    100 random neocons??

  • bulbul

    100 random neocons??
    Now we’re talking!

  • hapax

    99 neocons
    random torture classify
    from Britney Spears, to burning irons
    til their thirst is satisfied
    9/11 gave new life
    gasoline to smoldering fire
    long-banked fears and burning strife
    Where 99 neocons conspire…

  • fuzz

    Hey 85% Duane, can you please ‘splain your comment of 7:59 p.m., because I know you’re not accusing Jews of supporting torture as a group.

  • Jeff

    Or even our Jeff here.
    Hey, bulbul, have you tried the latest hot new sport? It’s a combination of water skiing and snow-boarding! It’s called… snow skiing! (Since I don’t like cold, that WOULD be torture for me!)
    While I’ve got your attention, I know you’re only relatively closer to Bulgaria, but have you heard of Gogol Bordello? As The Pogues, Dropkick Murphy and Flogging Molly are to Irish Punk, these guys are Bulgarian Punk. A little raw, but great energy, and fun — music under Muzon and videos under Chronicles.

  • 85% Duane

    Hey 85% Duane, can you please ‘splain your comment of 7:59 p.m., because I know you’re not accusing Jews of supporting torture as a group.
    Fuzz, if you know I’m not accusing Jews of supporting torture, then what is there to explain?

  • cjmr

    You could explain why you left your italics tag on.
    Hope that fixed it.

  • cjmr

    Nope. Let’s try this, then.

  • cjmr

    Drat. Fred! Please come fix the italics!

  • Jesurgislac

    Delendo italica!

  • Jesurgislac

    There. When all else fails, try magic.

  • hapax

    Yay! In six words, Jesu has summed up why I am a theist!

  • fuzz

    Fuzz, if you know I’m not accusing Jews of supporting torture, then what is there to explain?
    Because, my heavy sarcasm aside, it sure freakin’ looked like you were. So how about it?

  • bulbul

    Because, my heavy sarcasm aside, it sure freakin’ looked like you were. So how about it?
    Mind if I cut in?
    OK, fuzz, so first, please read the question to which Duane responded. It was about “moral decisions”, not just torture. So no, Duane did in no way insinuate that Jews support torture.
    And secondly, as you might have already guessed, Duane’s response was one of them baseball-throwing-ball things aimed at me. I picked up my baseball bat thing and delivered a straight house run (or whatever you call it).

  • bulbul

    Jeff,
    sure I’ve heard of them! But I thought they were a Russian-Ukrainian-Gypsy-Hungarian(?) punk. IIRC, their lyrics feature a lot of Russian and Romani.

  • 85% Duane

    Because, my heavy sarcasm aside, it sure freakin’ looked like you were. So how about it?
    Mind if I cut in?
    OK, fuzz, so first, please read the question to which Duane responded. It was about “moral decisions”, not just torture. So no, Duane did in no way insinuate that Jews support torture.
    And secondly, as you might have already guessed, Duane’s response was one of them baseball-throwing-ball things aimed at me. I picked up my baseball bat thing and delivered a straight house run (or whatever you call it).
    In fairness to Fuzz, one comment in one thread might enable one to make one bad call about one’s motivations.
    Sorry about my earlier pre-caffeinated response, Fuzz. Your outrage is misplaced. Hang around for awhile and get to know AnanusUR. Then my comment will make more sense.

  • Jeff

    I don’t know where I got that they were Bulgarian. Wiki states that they are “a Gypsy punk band (the lead vocalist is apparently half Roma [the other half is Heritage! Tomato jokes!])from the Lower East Side of New York City”.

  • 85% Duane

    Bulgaria is right over there underneath Romania. I mean, if Romania was a rock and you picked it up, Bulgaria would blink once or twice and then scurry underneath Serbia.

  • Bugmaster

    Best. Geography lesson. Evar.

  • fuzz

    All right, maybe it was a case of internet mistranslation. I apologize for unfairly interpreting 85% Duane’s comment, although I hope you can see how it might have come across the wrong way.
    BTW, I’ve read this complete thread and see what you mean about aunursa’s opinions on torture. As a person opposed to torture in all its forms, I find those opinions offensive. I just didn’t see what judaism has to do with it, but in light of your assurance I’ll consider the matter closed.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X