Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dirty hands

Britain has been forced to reveal some secret information about torture at Guantanamo Bay:

Britain's government on Wednesday disclosed once-secret information on the treatment of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who says he was tortured in U.S. custody, losing an extended court battle to keep the material classified.

Judges rejected the government's claim that revealing the information would damage U.S.-British intelligence cooperation.

The information disclosed consisted of a summary of U.S. intelligence information given to British spy agencies about former detainee Binyam Mohamed's treatment during interrogations by the Americans in May 2002.

The paragraphs read in court disclosed that he was subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" including sleep deprivation, shackling and threats resulting in mental stress and suffering.

Ethiopia-born Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and says he was tortured there and in Morocco before being flown to Guantanamo Bay. He was released without charge last year. [...]

The seven paragraphs summarize a U.S. account of Mohamed's treatment given to British intelligence before he was interviewed by a British MI5 agent in May 2002, the High Court disclosed last year.

Mohamed's lawyers had long claimed the secret paragraphs prove he was mistreated and that the U.S. and British governments were complicit in his abuse. They have been fighting for access to the documents, along with The Associated Press and other news organizations.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the rights group Liberty, said a "full and broad" public inquiry into British complicity in torture is needed in light of the information contained in the newly released paragraphs.

"It shows the British authorities knew far more than they let on about Binyam Mohamed and how he was tortured in U.S. custody," she said. "It is clear from these seven paragraphs that our authorities knew very well what was happening to Mr. Mohamed. Our hands are very dirty indeed."

If British hands are dirty just because they knew about the torture taking place, how dirty are ours?

26 comments:

  1. I would say not dirty at all since none of this looks like torture to the normal American. Poor terrorist who was kept from his nap and threatened. Did they tell him he would not get his daily snack? See nothing here to make a fuss about.

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  2. Well, Greta, I didn't excerpt some of the other allegations, which include genital mutilation. Look up the report, if you're interested to learn more. But I'm sure you'll manage to justify a little genital mutilation so long as it's only a terrorist being mutilated.

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  3. Greta, I remind you that terrorists are also human beings. They may be our enemies, but we are commanded to love our enemies and pray for those who hate us.

    This does not mean we let them walk all over us. But it does mean we recognize that God also has created them, and sent his Son to save them as much as to save us.

    It means we refuse to act like animals, forgetting our own dignity as children of God, in our treatment of them.

    Even to a non-Christian, it means we should base our treatment of them upon facts, not upon presumptions, feelings, fears, and justifications.

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  4. "Well, Greta, I didn't excerpt some of the other allegations, which include genital mutilation."

    provide the link to this information

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  5. Jasper, the link is the same as the link to the article I quoted from in the post.

    The quotes from the article, which I did not put in the main body of the post, are as follows:

    "Mohamed, 31, moved to Britain as a teenager. He was arrested as a terrorist suspect in 2002 in Karachi by Pakistani forces and later transferred to Morocco, Afghanistan and in 2004 to Guantanamo Bay.

    "He says he was tortured in Pakistan, and that interrogators in Morocco beat him, deprived him of sleep and sliced his genitals with a scalpel."

    But, of course, he's just a dirty terrorist, so he's probably lying, or else he deserved it anyway, right?

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  6. OMG, just because he said you believe that our troops did this?

    Repent. I thought you were a good person Erin, now I'm convinced that you are a left wing lunatic.

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  7. What do "our troops" have to do with this case?

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  8. Something bizarre seems to happen to the minds of a whole class of people when this subject is discussed. Anyone who disagrees with torture of captives, concedes that the US has in fact tortured captives - that what the US has admitted to doing is torture captives, semantic baloney aside - and wishes to correct matters by turning back the torture shibboleth, simply must, in virtue of having adopted that position, be a left-wing lunatic. It is kind of like the "Bush=hitler" phenomenon only in reverse, where anyone who ever supported Bush in anything is by definition a Nazi: a substitute for rational thought when the ideological mind finds itself incapable of having one which fits into its preconceptions.

    Lets concede for a moment that some of the things reported in that article may be false. What else is new? The US in fact tortured captives, has admitted to torturing captives in so many words while desperately trying to claim that it was "not torture". That creates the conditions where stories like this become plausible, and need to be taken seriously, even though of course the particulars of the particular case might be in error.

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  9. Bush didn't "torture" anybody. Torture - REAL torture - isn't putting panties on somebody's head, or spraying water up their nose (look up how Muslims perform pre-salat ablutions), or making them stand in a cold or hot room. REAL torture is what Saddam did. REAL torture is what the Viet Cong did. REAL torture is what Hitler/Tojo did. There is a marked difference between interrogation techniques which use intimidation, and torture. Those wussified wimpy little lib/dem/soc/commies don't want to face the ugly fact that to get information that saves their miserable hide, you have to use techniques that go beyond tea and crumpets. Also, the ICRC have not been denied access to battlefield prisoners (NOT prisoners of war, since they did not wear any uniform nor did they belong to any organized or recognized armed military group under any national flag), they've been to Club G'itmo (Your Tropical Retreat From The Stress of Jihad) several times.

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  10. Those wussified wimpy little lib/dem/soc/commies don't want to face the ugly fact that to get information that saves their miserable hide, you have to use techniques that go beyond tea and crumpets.

    What's comical is that it's always the torture apologists who get emotional.

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  11. "Torture - REAL torture - isn't putting panties on somebody's head, or spraying water up their nose (look up how Muslims perform pre-salat ablutions), or making them stand in a cold or hot room."

    I looked up pre-salat ablutions. Oddly enough, I didn't see any mention of restraining people on a table slanted down, placing a towel over their face, and pouring water down their mouth and nose until they have the sensation of drowning.

    "REAL torture is what Hitler/Tojo did."

    You mean, like waterboarding? Or was it ok when the Germans and the Japanese waterboarded prisoners? I'm sure there were plenty of times they did it for the purpose of getting information.

    "Those wussified wimpy little lib/dem/soc/commies don't want to face the ugly fact that to get information that saves their miserable hide, you have to use techniques that go beyond tea and crumpets."

    Yes, that's right, I forgot. The only alternative to torture is tea and crumpets.

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  12. All kinds of red flags should go up when 'Catholics' are on the side of MSNBC, Keith Olbermann, Lawrence O'Donnell and the ACLU.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2010/02/12/video-odonnell-me/

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  13. Guilt by association, Jasper? How pathetically weak an argument.

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  14. I saw a comment of yours at Christopher Blosser's.

    I have just a SMIDGEON of hope that maybe, just maybe, there can be an unsnarky discussion of these questions which doesn't attack people's motives but honestly takes a look at the very real debate on torture and Catholic teaching with the kind of care and charity that Blosser himself or Jimmy Akin have attempted to provide.

    That would be a REAL service.

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  15. Yes, it is a fact that you can tell a lot by the people you are associated with in terms of beliefs. The fact that many on the torture bandwagon are associated with those who see no issue with abortion. Also, the article you post above is not torture in any way and yet you seem comfortable posting it as if this is your definition of torture and it was not even done by the US. You come back with you mangled genitals and admit that this was only a claim by the terrorist. I would think mangled genitals would be easy to determine if they were, but the problem would be when it occured and by who. Somehow I think nutjobs who are willing to blow themselves up to kill innocent people would also mangle themselves as well to cause issues. This report is kind of like the global warming farce which is showing to have been lies as well to serve a cause. Can someone post facts of torture with proven documentation? By the way, waterboarding is not torture as the vast majority of American agree. Of course in your mind, you see the majority of Americans as lovers of torture since they would support waterboarding terrorist.
    As to whether or not terrorist are human, I think most would say they gave up their humanity when they sign on as terrorist. We as human can choose to treat them humanely, but that is our choice. Kind of like spies during war coming across lines out of uniform. We can execute them. Are they not human? We put human beings in jail without the possibility of them ever getting out. Is that humane? Of all the problems we have in the world today, this is way down the list of problems. When we stop abortion, we can move on to lesser items like this.

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  16. As to whether or not terrorist are human, I think most would say they gave up their humanity when they sign on as terrorist. We as human can choose to treat them humanely, but that is our choice.

    Find that one in the Catechism.

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  17. @ Greta:

    "Can someone post facts of torture with proven documentation? By the way, waterboarding is not torture as the vast majority of American agree."

    Well, gee, Greta - thanks for establishing, by "facts... with proven documentation" that waterboarding is not torture. In fact, in over-viewing your posts, I find the parenthetical bibliographic data so overwhelming that I might just change my mind on this issue here on the spot.

    The fact is, Greta, that it has been repeatedly stated here that the Church includes under the heading of "intrinsically evil acts" the following: "whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself." As far as the Magisterium is concerned, whether you call these "torture" or "enhanced interrogation techniques" or "ballroom dancing" is irrelevant.

    Now, it seems arguable not only that waterboarding falls under the heading of a bodily or mental torment for the purpose of coercing the will, but also that various forms of religious ridicule or offense against piety (such as placing panties on the head of a Muslim man) would also qualify. I went into the reasons for this elsewhere. This blog is littered with source material that takes only a little mental work to connect the dots. Our opponents are not nearly as generous in their provision of documentation.

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  18. @Greta: guilt by association goes both ways. I can personally attest that Erin (Red) and Mark and I all are strongly against abortion, as well as against torture. I know many others of the same mindset.

    Does this mean that those who are against torture are therefore automatically against abortion as well?

    Obviously not. Rather, it means that there are different reasons for taking various political positions.

    Our argument on this site is simply that permitting - to say nothing of promoting - torture is as contrary to virtue and divine will as abortion is.

    This is not an either/or situation. It is not a zero-sum game. That is all we are saying.

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  19. The simple fact is that most people in every poll do not consider waterboarding a terrorist to gain information to protect life as being torture. This post talked about mangled genitals and seemed to say that first the US was responsible for that when it occured in other countries and second that it was offered on the basis of the terrorist statement. I think there should be proof that first it was done by the US citizens and second that proof is offered as to if it was done, where, and when.

    As to supporting abortion or not, my point is that on the grand scale of issues in this country when we have 4000 babies a day being slaughtered to death, this obsession with the supposed torture of terrorist seems kind of misplaced. It is used to usually attack the former administration and give aid to the party of death who supports abortion of every stripe.
    Also, name a country we have fought in the last 100 years who did not torture our prisoners? The argument that we do not want our soldiers tortured as an excuse for not torturing terrorist is crazy because it always happens in war unless someone can name an enemy of ours that did not torture or troops.

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  20. "The simple fact is that most people in every poll do not consider waterboarding a terrorist to gain information to protect life as being torture."

    Luckily for us, we don't need to look at the majority of Americans to decide whether it is or not. We can use our own capacity to reason. Plus, we can look to the Catholic Church as well as the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions.

    For instance, the UN Convention tells us:
    "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."

    We can look to those who have been waterboarded (even those who have it done to them willingly) to tell us that waterboarding causes severe pain and suffering. So, under this definition (the US and Vaticans are signatories to the Convention) and the evidence provided by those who have been waterboarded, we can find out that waterboarding is in fact torture. No need to poll the public.

    "Also, name a country we have fought in the last 100 years who did not torture our prisoners? The argument that we do not want our soldiers tortured as an excuse for not torturing terrorist is crazy because it always happens in war unless someone can name an enemy of ours that did not torture or troops."

    And they were wrong to do it. If your son came home from school with a note saying that he defaced school property, would you accept "Because everyone else was doing it" as a legitimate reason for him to do so? Our enemies doing wrong does not entitle us to do wrong.

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  21. It is used to usually attack the former administration and give aid to the party of death who supports abortion of every stripe.

    1. No one here opposes torture as a means of supporting legal abortion.

    2. What does it say about the Republican Party that the issue of torture can be used to cause people to vote Democratic?

    This is almost word-for-word what Austin Ruse said over and over again on The American Catholic over the weekend. The Coalition for Clarity needs a FAQ. Maybe a Wiki.

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  22. Can we include the definition provided in the UN Convention Against Torture in our little FAQ? I'm tired of copying and pasting:)

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  23. What format ought such a document take? A blog post? A .pdf? Scribd doc?

    I could work on it. I got time. I could post it on the Facebook site, open for revisions or suggestions.

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  24. Joey, I think that would be wonderful! Speaking as a not-that-technical person I think a permanently linked blog post on the sidebar is the easiest; that's how some other bloggers I read do that sort of thing. But if others think a different format works better that's fine too.

    And a reminder--if any of you eloquent defenders of Church teaching would like the ability to post blog posts here in addition to comments, please just email me at redcardigan (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll set you up as a contributor. There's no obligation to post regularly or at all, but if you have something like a FAQ or the occasional link you'd like to put up directly to the blog, having posting ability would make that really easy.

    Leo, I'll put the UN Convention definition in the sidebar as well for the time being.

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  25. Thanks Red, and would you mind putting me on the Members list as well? Mucho gracias.

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