Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What do the survivors think of torture?

A fascinating essay in today's Christian Science Monitor looks at what survivors of torture think of the torture debate:

Americans with no experience deceive themselves about torture. A friend told me that when the US tortured people it was somehow more humane.

But talk to torture victims at the annual gathering of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) and they tell you that torture, whatever its guise, is always immoral.

In the early 1980s, Miguel was held prisoner for four years by the Marcos regime in the Philippines. “Torture is always wrong,” he says. “It uses terrorism to try to destroy terrorism. The torturer becomes the terrorist. You think you establish order by breaking the law.” [...]

Perpetrators of torture share a common rationale: national security. “They tell you torture keeps your families safe and secure,” says Miguel.

What about the Israeli argument – that torture can thwart a suicide bomber, or the American version: “What if Islamic terrorists planted a suitcase-sized nuclear bomb in New York City?”

I put that question to torture survivors. One asked, “Why torture anyone? Wouldn’t you be better off finding an imam ... to sit with the prisoner and let him persuade a suspect it’s morally wrong to take innocent lives?”

Of the dozen survivors I interviewed, people from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, each said torture doesn’t work. In 2008, Mary from Uganda was beaten, gang raped, and terrorized in prison. Her crime? Being a member of the opposition party. “When they torture you, two things happen,” she says. “First they make you crazy. Next, you believe you’re going to die, so there’s no point in confessing.”

Read the whole thing here.

All the hypothetical situations in the world can't compare with the voices of people tortured by unjust regimes, who know what they are talking about. From their perspective, torture is always wrong, and torture doesn't work. They're in a position to know what they're talking about.

43 comments:

  1. I agree that torture is horrible. Of course being beaten, raped, and terrorized as this woman was is something that no American of any type would support in any way. I imagine that the the guy under the Marcos regime also was brutalized. We know for fact that those held in Iraq under Saddam faced total torture from what was discovered and the stories of survivors. We know that the people under the USSR were tortured and killed. We know that the Islamist behead people. We know that our soldiers during WWII killed prisoners in cold blood. We know that the Vietnamese tortured from the stories of returning prisoners.

    Glad to know that the worst we seem to have done was waterboarding which we also do to our soldiers as part of training program. To any of those above, they would have taken waterboarding over what they recieved.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mr. Annonymous

    In the US Armed Forces water boarding, and other similar foolishness, is done to volunteers who may back out at any time, who have first undergone a rigorous physical, and the dirt deed is done in the presence of a safety officer, medical doctor and commissioned officer who may halt the proceedings (as can the instructor and student) at any time.

    I am glad you think that the worst we have done was water boarding. Personally, I thought getting 6,000 priceless American soldiers killed invading countries that had nothing to do with 9/11/01 was pretty terrible. Not to mention all the guys and gals in Walter Reed without arms, legs, eyes etc. But that just me. And I am an old soldier and have peculiar ways of thinking.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    ReplyDelete
  3. Richard,

    Stop getting your information from Keith Olbermann and left wing websites.

    Steven

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous (whether you are Steven or someone else):

    For all of your "practicalities" you haven't so far, in any of the comments in the many posts here I've been following, quoted a SINGLE actual source of moral theology or Christian ethics. Nothing. Not a fig.

    Not a single dot from divine Revelation or natural law, or anything having anything to do with the order of principles. Just tosh about individuals' children who have been kidnapped. You say government officials often have to face this very scenario, and yet, under Richard's challenges, you haven't done a BIT of leg-work and actually found one substantiated case to demonstrate it; that is, while you mention KSM, to my knowledge KSM didn't have hostage any of his interrogators' children. So where, again, is the relevancy of your argument?

    My essay below is at least well-researched and drawn from sources of secular philosophy and Christian ethics. If you yourself were to get arrested, and were never read your Miranda rights (and I am not here alluding to the recent nonsense with the "underwear bomber") - if YOU were not read your rights, you might be affronted and offended and think it rather inconvenient. Why, though? What do those rights have to do with the "practical" situation?

    The fact is those rights are abstract principles that were written in times of sanity and calm, which are meant to be applied TO circumstances - not vice versa. You go on and on about what would anybody do under circumstance A or B, and take a pejorative tact toward our attempts here to work back to first principles. Yet you would probably be damned scared if you ran into a situation of stunning practicality where you were deprived of the network and forest of principles that had been set up by philosophers and legistlators for you to duck and cover behind.

    Your consideration of waterboarding being "the worst we seem to have done" is in fact WEAKER an argument because you move from pure emotionalism and casuistic ethics, rather than utilizing sources of repute and authority. Did you even read my essay below before casting dispersions on it? Who says that the things described in that interrogation log aren't worse than waterboarding? Showing pornography to a person and placing him occasion of temptation to violate his religion, depriving him of the dignity to be allowed to pray to his God, using His name for God in vulgar profanity: I'm not willing to shrug those off just because they have not hurt him in any permanent way. Who's to say they haven't? And what about God? What about HIM being offended? That is a consideration conspicuously absent from all of your commentary here, except below where you tell US to "go to confession" for "playing dirty."

    ReplyDelete
  5. (CONTINUED FROM ABOVE)

    Anonymous:

    By all means, continue in our discussion. But, first, open a Catechism (doesn't have to be Catholic); open a Bible; open Kant or Kierkegaard for lack of anything better; and get some sources for your argument that were not born in your vivid imagination.

    Oh, and finally - "in the end of all [my] words" below, if you don't find the idea of torture at least somewhat clearer and aren't able to conceive of a more practical definition that can cover many variables, then I don't know what to tell you. A famous Supreme Court Justice once said of pornography that "he would know it if he saw it." I'm sorry, but I'm not willing to accept the Magisterium of One. I'm not willing to submit to demagoguery in such an uncertain age. I'm not willing to trust that fathers of children with the "balls" to "do what it takes" are the best practical guide for ethics and for discerning what is and is not humane and just.

    I'll keep striving for an articulate definition, thanks. And my research has led me to believe that, based on principles of sound ethics and moral philosophy, waterboarding used in interrogation IS torturous, whatever my nightmares about my future children's abduction by the Boogey-Man suggest to the contrary.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mr. Steven

    RE: Where I get my informatiom

    I do not get my information, as you suggest, "direct from Kieth Olbermann and left wing websites" but instead direct from Red Square in Moscow where the secret Knights Templar who really controls world events resides and sends me (and his other agenst) orders.

    I also, occasionally, get my information from DOD websutes and other military related sites which address this and other issues.

    Also I have a little bit of personal experience in this area. There is a world of diference between volunteering at playing POW in a US DOD training course and being in the hands of the bad guys.

    Torture is not merely a political issue. It is a matter of naturla law.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    PS: When can we expect those real world incidents to support your comic book fantasy land scenario?

    ReplyDelete
  7. The “it can’t happen here” response is so disconcerting. This is why a Coalition for Clarity can be helpful, especially if the group of you can get our pastors and bishops to speak out more.

    --Matt

    ReplyDelete
  8. Richard,

    I would encourage you to read Dick Cheney's speech to the AEI, he articulates why it was necessary to use enhanced interrogation methods to keep our country safe.

    I really admire this man...
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22823.html

    Steven

    ReplyDelete
  9. Respectfully, Cheney's argument is basically it worked, therefore it's moral. We only did it to the REEAAALLY bad guys, therefore it's moral. Which gets me back to a question I posed before, but only got crickets chirping as a resonse: if waterboarding isn't torture, why not allow police to use it on criminals?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Steven,

    Once again your appeal is to a very relativistic ethic. You really admire Dick Cheney. So do I, but not in the same sense: he astonishes me. I stand in awe of his draconian and Machivellian cunning. That is not complementary, but I'm being honest.

    Dick's argument is a machine built around one lynch-pin (no double-entendre): "What national security requires." This is the phrase he uses halfway through the speech and the concept to which he appeals constantly, that we are somehow "losing sight of." We must do - we must be willing to do - "what national security requires."

    He regards that as a given. Something that can't be called into question.

    But I guess I'll ask the straightforward question: "Says who?"

    Why is that the ultimate value? Fine, the security of our nation is important. But the soul of our nation is important too. How many of the founding fathers balked during the original negotiations that forged our Republic and brought the conversation back to the drawing board because they would not exchange one tyrant for another?

    Well, I ask you, Steven, to consider, and honestly, the following: What is America worth, what does our security matter, if we trade the tyranny of terrorized fear for the tyranny of the dictatorship of relativism? Cheney says that America has not lost its moral bearing in all of this. But nowhere in the speech does he cite a single source document of the political/ethical philosophy of our nation, the same way you have not cited a single reputable source of sound ethics and moral philosophy.

    We need to get to the principles here and stop talking about ticking bombs and all the nightmare scenarios and million-and-one "what ifs" that fertile immaginations may grow. Principles are road-maps; or better, maps of the river we're navigating. You're scooping up handfuls of the rivers water which can barely be held without falling through our fingers, and which is always rushing by and changing at every moment. The map is the solid and unchanging thing that will carry us through every current. We need to look at the map...

    ReplyDelete
  11. "But the soul of our nation is important too."

    The soul of our nation was lost in 1973 when we legalized the killing of unborn children, the tally is now over 50 million dead.

    So, let's not pretend how innocent our nation was before waterboading 3 terrorists in 2003.


    Steven

    ReplyDelete
  12. RE: VP Cheney

    The VP is making an argument that puts him in direct opposition to the US Departments of Defense and Justice which have found that so called EIT's are illegal; and Americans who use them are subject to prosecution. Also DOD has found that EIT's are counter productive as an interrogation tool. The DOD findings were in place during the VP's tenure in office which reveals a serious leadership problem and a fractured government.

    The VP has never spent a day in military uniform. He has neither law enforcement ror intelligence experience. Indeed, although eligible for the draft for seven years, he was able to successfully apply for 4-deferments and one exception. He simply does not know of what he speaks. He has never gone into harms way for the USA and therefore lacks credibility to speak in the first place.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    ReplyDelete
  13. "The soul of our nation was lost in 1973 when we legalized the killing of unborn children, the tally is now over 50 million dead."

    Even more reason to fight against other evils, such as torture, while continuing the fight against abortion. We must fight intrinsic evil wherever it bears its ugly head.

    "So, let's not pretend how innocent our nation was before waterboading 3 terrorists in 2003."

    I don't think anyone here is pretending that there was some golden age of innocence before government sponsored torture of terrorists. What we are saying is that it is pointless to throw away our souls in order to save our lives.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "He simply does not know of what he speaks"

    Richard,

    As you seriously telling me that Dick Cheney doesn't know what he's talking about? Sec of Defense, WHCOS, Vice President.

    You know, what is it with you and calling people who haven't been in the military? Dick Cheney has served his country. I'm come from a family of veterans. Although I don't mention it in every post like you do.

    Steven

    ReplyDelete
  15. "Even more reason to fight against other evils, such as torture"

    We don't torture people Leo. Enhanced interrogation is not torture. WB is not torture.

    geez, everything including denying somebody a peanut-butter sandwich is torture to you people.

    ReplyDelete
  16. From the UN Convention Against Torture (to which both the US and Vatican are signatories): "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."

    Waterboarding is the process of strapping a man down, covering his face, and pouring water into his mouth and nostrels in order to simulate the feeling of drowning. This causes severe suffering (and perhaps pain) in order to extract information from him. This is done against the man's will. It was done with the consent of public officials (the Executive Branch of the government). From my perspective, it is torture.

    Please explain to me why it is not.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. No, Anonymous, not everything is torture to us people.

    But neither is decorated dung any less rank just because it has a bow on it. Call it what you will, water-boarding qualifies as an attempt to coerce the will of another person by inflicting mental and physical discomfort on his person (the physiogical unity of body and soul) - and that is torture by the developed Catholic teaching and by agreed upon international standards, as well as the United States' own policies as Richard has continuously pointed out.

    We're not saying that there are no means of "enhanced interrogation" that can be acceptable. There are ways to aggressively interrogate without torturing. We should use our imagination to come up with some rather than to come up with ways to make the ugly sisters' feet fit the glass slippers.

    "I don't think anyone here is pretending that there was some golden age of innocence before government sponsored torture of terrorists." I'll go even further than Leo. I don't pretend that America didn't torture before we tortured; in other words, I'm not saying before 2003 or before 1993 that our DoD and CIA and God-knows-what other officious agencies were not committing all kinds of terrible crimes in the name of America. But that doesn't make it right. Your continual use of non sequitur appeals to "whodunnit" or "who would-a dunnit" is very frustrating. Let's analyze the acts themselves!

    Here's a puzzler for you. Since you keep asking us why we won't allow torture, I'll ask you: what, inherently, is wrong with "negotiating" with terrorists? We hear it so often as a commonplace that we just take it for granted: WE WILL NOT - WE MUST NOT - NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS. And yet, it might be argued that it'd be better to negotiate with a terrorist than to torture one. I'm not going to debate that point, because I'm not sure where I stand on it. But I'm interested to hear what you would say to it. Why can't we negotiate with terrorists? What kind of principles, what kinds of ethical standards and general norms would you apply to justify that edict?

    Since you keep using circumstantial and irrelevant attacks to undermine a principled argument on our part against torture, let's experimentally turn the tables and see how you would defend something which you probably take for granted on principle.

    So have at it anonymous plural: WHY MUST WE, WHY WILL WE NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS?

    ReplyDelete
  19. "This causes severe suffering (and perhaps pain) in order to extract information from him. This is done against the man's will."

    It's not severe suffering, it is not suppose to be pleasant though, this is enhanced interrogation were talking about. Remember, we're trying to get information out of the terrorist. Innocent lives are at stake. Think about their dignity.

    "Call it what you will, water-boarding qualifies as an attempt to coerce the will of another person by inflicting mental and physical discomfort on his person"

    yes, that's right, they are terrorist after all and innocent lives are at stake. It's not torture though either.

    "Why can't we negotiate with terrorists?"

    I never said we couldn't negotiate with terrorists, I may be open to it.



    Steven

    ReplyDelete
  20. "It's not severe suffering, it is not suppose to be pleasant though, this is enhanced interrogation were talking about."

    If it is not severe suffering, then why is it that those who are waterboarded (including those who have it done to them willingly) say that it is. Even those who were pro-waterboarding to begin with come out of the experience saying that it is torture.

    "Innocent lives are at stake. Think about their dignity."

    This is a non sequitor. Just because innocents possess human dignity, it does not follow that we can violate the human dignity of terrorists.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Steven:

    "yes, that's right... It's not torture though either."

    - You responded that in answer to my definition: "an attempt to coerce the will of another person by inflicting mental and physical discomfort on his person."

    Compare this with Gaudium et Spes 27: "[W]hatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself... all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator."

    That's the Sacred Magisterium of the Church, speaking authoritatively and bindingly. Now, I don't care if you call what I described "torture" in this instance, because neither does GS 27 (JP II, quoting this in Veritatis Splendor 80, DOES call it that, however); but my point is that these actions are described as "infamies indeed."

    I know that innocent lives are at stake. No one is saying we ought not to protect them. But at what cost? Who sets the parameters? You claim that "attempts to coerce the will itself" which the Church calls "infamies indeed" are acceptable. Where do you draw the line, then? Just because they don't leave a permanent mark or cause lasting harm (allegedly), they're still infamies which have been condemned. So, where does this leave us? What Magisterium do we have to tell us what is the last straw, if we throw the Church's own prudence out the window?

    ReplyDelete
  22. RE: Question: Does VP Cheney know what he is talking about?

    No.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    ReplyDelete
  23. RE: Question: Does water boarding work?

    Answer: No

    Who says so?: The United States Army

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    ReplyDelete
  24. RE: Question: Is water boarding illegal?

    Answer: Yes

    Who says so?: The United States Department of Justice, Defense and Army

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    ReplyDelete
  25. RE: Question: Is water boarding illegal?

    Richard,

    Waterboarding is not an approved interrogation technique since Pres. Obama signed executive order 13491 in January 2009. Prior to that point the Department of Justice found waterboarding to be legal (e.g., the Bybee memos). Perhaps the Army weighed in on the legality, I do not have a reference to cite.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Bybee#Bybee_memo
    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Executive_Order_13491

    --Matt

    ReplyDelete
  26. Richard W Comerford comes around on the torture issue every chance he gets to bash the republican party, the war, and of course the big bad guys in office on 9/11 that kept America safe. He spouts off like he actually has some great experience and yet there does not appear to be any proof of his vast experience.

    Having said that, he is usually wrong on every issue. Not doing anything about Iraq after 9/11 when everyone in the world said he had weapons and a history with chemical Ali of building and using them only shows how stupid Richie is on this issue. Every majore democrat was calling for the ouster of Saddam for years prior to Bush and last time I looked, the congress gave full approval for Bush to attack as did the UN. Had Bush with this info not gone in and taken him out and anything at all happen there would have been cries for impeachment. since none were found, some assume that there never were WMD. I think there is just as good a chance that they were hidden somewhere in the dessert and may never be found. Since Bush I did not go to Bahgdad, maybe Saddam believed that Bush II would not either.

    But why are we even talking about torture when Obama has ended torture and turned the world back to pre 9/11 mentality. When we get attacked again under this administration, I hope those who wring their hands at waterboarding terrorist will apologize and put the democrat who themselves create more terror than the islamists through abortion out to pasture.

    ReplyDelete
  27. "When we get attacked again under this administration, I hope those who wring their hands at waterboarding terrorist will apologize and put the democrat who themselves create more terror than the islamists through abortion out to pasture."

    Catholics ought not be consequentialists. Successful terrorist attacks do not justify a re-approval of torture by the US Government.


    "But why are we even talking about torture when Obama has ended torture and turned the world back to pre 9/11 mentality."

    We should continue to talk about torture because Catholics are more likely to support torture more than the general population.

    --Matt

    ReplyDelete
  28. Matt:

    No. Sadly, Executive Order 13491 does not mention water boarding or enhanced interrogation techniques ("EIT"). Although DOD has never allowed EIT's the CIA, after 9/11/01, did; and there is great fear that it is still water boarding.

    A little background:

    Prior to 9/11/01 all bodies of the federal government forbid torture.

    After 9/11/01 DOD continued to forbid torture as illegal, a violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to prisoners and also counter productive as an interrogation technique. DOD included water boarding on its list of prohibited techniques. The US Supreme Court in "Hamdan" essentially agreed with DOD Federal Statute (Ttile 18, Chapter 113C) also forbids torture. It defines torture as the infliction of "severe physical or mental pain or suffering"

    After 9/11/01 the CIA hired two $1,000.00 a day shrinks (with no interrogation background) to develop a program to train government torturers. To get around federal Statute and the Supreme Court the torturers claimed that they were not inflicting "severe pain". They described what they were doing not as torture but as "enhanced interrogation techniques".

    However DOD (worried about what would happen to captured US Soldiers) claimed that the Geneva Convention required "humane" treatment of all prisoners and detainees (which is what the Court also found in "Hamdan") and that the Convention prevented the infliction of any pain.

    This matter seems to have develop into a political partisan issue with many conservative, Republican Catholics advocating "torture lite" or water boarding.

    God help us.

    Richard W Comerford

    ReplyDelete
  29. To be honest here ..and I hope I don't offend anybody. But to Richard, Joey and Leo; you just don't have what it takes to protect innocents. There, I spoke the truth... you do not have courage, you are not courageous men, you won't even protect your families and children. It makes me nervous that a man like Richard 'I served in the military' Comerford is in any position that involves the safety of American citizens. He is unfit to serve.

    Steven

    ReplyDelete
  30. Well, gee, Steven, how could that possibly offend us? I also served in the military, and was a member of one of the first missions of the operation in Iraq, and was nothing but proud to do my duty.

    I was only ever ashamed to find out that people in similar positions to me were being forced by unscrupulous overseers to do things which were unconscionable, and that they were too spineless to draw the line.

    Moral courage means being able to stand on some kind of principle. You haven't articulated a single one since you've started arguing here: only a weak willingness to go with the flow and "do whatever it takes."

    Do the boys raised in terrorist camps who are brainwashed to think that "doing the will of God" involves strapping a bomb to their chest and walking into a cafe have a surplus or a lack of courage? I would say the latter. Any effete wimp can go along with the easy way out and be a bully.

    It sometimes takes a bigger man to be able to say, "I won't lower myself to your level. I won't damn my soul to save a life. I'll let you rape and torture my loved ones right in front of me if the only alternative is burning incense to your false God."

    This example might not sound like courage, but it's an example drawn from the lives of the early Christian martyrs whom we venerate even in the words of our Mass.

    You won't even step outside of the box of your own emotionalism and articulate a position founded on some general philosophy, but insist upon attacks upon our characters.

    With Christian charity, sir, I ask you to develop some truly Christian courage and confront ideas in the clear light of day and free from the attachments of consoling circumstances. Look at ideas in their raw form and contemplate the appalling choices which necessity sometimes REALLY dictates. It's better to die a saint than live a sinner. End of story.

    I wore the uniform proudly for six years. I served in a war. I won awards for exceptional service. But I don't testify to courage with that. Rather, I testify to my courage in that I'm courageous enough to fear God - to humble myself before Him and become small and to allow His law to overtake my feeble intentions, and to allow His virtue to perfect my own weak will.

    I'm done speaking with you, sir. I'll pray for you, and let that be enough. May you have the courage to follow the edicts of reason. For my part, I will "take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10). Words to live by, my friend; much preferred to Dick Cheney's sophistries.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Mr. Steven:

    Have you consulted Mr. Google yet? I am still waiting for real world examples to back up yoru comic book, fantasy land scenarios.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    ReplyDelete
  32. Steven,

    I'm not even sure where to begin here, but I will do my best.

    First of all, you use the word courage. I don't think it means what you think it means. So, let's start with a definition and go from there.

    From Merriam-Webster: courage (noun) - mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

    What we are speaking about here is the morality of torture (by the way, I would still like to hear your response to those who have been waterboarded, even willfully, who call it torture). We are speaking of the moral issue of torture being intrinsically evil. As something which is intrinsically evil, it is not permitted in any circumstances. It is wrong, plain and simple.

    In the situation you outlined, there is a temptation to do evil. But, it is not the man who tortures the terrorist who is courageous. Rather, it is the man who finds the moral strength to stand by his convictions, the courageous man resists the easy way to satiate his wrath and hatred for the terrorist.

    I don't know how I would respnd in such a situation. I hope that I would have the courage to stand strong and resist the temptation to torment a confession out of the man. But, in the end you may be right. I may lack courage. But if so, my lack of courage would lead me to torture the man, not treat him humanely. For torture is not virtuous; it is the way of the coward.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm sorry, my comments are out of line and untrue.

    Steven

    ReplyDelete
  34. "an attempt to coerce the will of another person by inflicting mental and physical discomfort on his person"

    I can think of a million different things that happen in every day life that could fall into this catagory. Paying income tax could easily fall into this catagory especially when it is wasted on left wing efforts to reinvent America.

    Lets face it, those who want to continue to whine about torture and cannot define it in terms that make sense and are practical when fighting a war on terrorist who do not fight with a single ounce of morals or rules of engagement place the country at grave danger. If these same pukes had been whining during WWII, we would still be fighting the germans and japs. Just finished reading a book on D Day and the first troops in where advised to not take prisoners because we had no way to do this. They were to be shot. I suspect on a routine that our troops did far worse things to captured prisoners to gain information than most of what is classified by you folks as torture and we were fighting troops that wore uniforms and represented a country, not slime balls that hide behind women and children and who cut off heads of prisoners, even civilians, and video it or who fly planes loaded with innocent people into buildings.

    I will save all my compassion in this area for the innocent babies that are butchered each day by those who profit from whiners like this bunch who want to keep trying to find a way to but Bush and Cheney on trial.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Mr. Anonymous:

    You purport that there is no clear definition of torture. You also seem to purport that if the advocates of humane treatment were around in WW It we would still be fighting "the germans and the japs".

    Please allow me to introduce you to my personal information management consultant, Mr. Google. For a nominal fee he will provide you with a copy of the Army Interrogation Manual FM 32-52 which defines and describes in exacting detail what is torture and what is a prohibited technique. It is written so as to be readily understood by dumb grunts like myself.

    If you ask nicely Mr. Google may reveal to you that during WWII, by policy, the US Government treated prisoners humanely; and, in so doing, reaped massive amounts of actionable intelligence. We also won that war in 4-years. I believe that 9-years after 9/11/01 UBL is still at large despite all of the merry torturers on the government payroll.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    ReplyDelete
  36. Steven: Thank you for your apology; no hard feelings.

    Anonymous: Where to begin? First of all, "the germans and the japs" are also human beings with inalienable dignity and enemies whom we are called to love, historically and presently. Secondly, I don't fall in lock-step with the appeal to WW II as some kind of vision of altruistic heroism. I honor my grandfather who fought in that war and the rest of his great generation for answering the call. I condemn the choices of individual soldiers to assassinate enemies when options were limited, and I absolutely and wholeheartedly condemn the resolution of the war through the use of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. These latter actions, by the way, have also been wholly condemned by the Catholic Church consistently and at the highest level of authority.

    So, sorry, I won't accept that just because the soldiers or the US military did a thing during WW II, that that makes it right. That's like saying the rape and murder and plundering that Crusaders did on the way to the Holy Land is justified by the end. Sorry, it doesn't scan - and it's in fact easier to make the "just war" case for the Crusades than for the Second World War! My point is we still need to be discerning and analyze actions based on their moral content, not whether they're expedient to protecting our national interests. It would be better to be taken over by a tyrannical foreign power, or even obliterated from existence, than to become savages in the process of defending ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Richard, I suppose all your info on WWII comes from google. There is multiple books out that detail the simple fact that we shoot prisoners of war and that some were beaten before being shot. I hate to break it to you, but mr google is not the ultimate authority on history.

    You keep touting the army manual as if that is the ultimate source of all information on the issue of handling prioners. Does the army speak for the entire government of the USA? I don't think you would get agreement from any other agency on that topic.

    My son served in Vietnam for two tours. He has talked about massive mistreatment of a number of people that he witnessed in attempts to find the terrorist of that war hiding amoung the civilian population. And yes, a lot of the treatment produced information that saved lives.

    Richard, you honestly believe that our handling of every prisoner was done exactly for all four years against the nazi's and japs followed the letter of the army manual and then believe that this handling magically was the key factor in winning the war? If so, I suspect you would be in the 1% of the population that would buy into that idiotic statement. What won the war was the overwhelming power of the USA coming into the war and the willingness of the leadership to use it to its fullest extent. I listed all the things we did in WWII that are far greater than waterboarding a person who violates any thought of warfare by refusing to wear a uniform and follow any code of conduct. We had the same thing in WWII with the Japs and the rape of nanking and the Battan death march or the nazi's with their shooting of prisoners, torture of prisoners and civilians, shooting of civilians in reprisals or at the whim of a local leader of the SS.

    We should never go to war easily, but when we put troops in harms way, nothing we have in our arsenal should be taken off the table to save their lives. The object is to make the other poor bastard die for his country. Now we have weak links in our own country who put our troops at great risk over Politically Correct leadership. We have not found Bin Laden because Bush or someone stopped the troops when we had him trapped in the beginning of the war. We have not killed that excuse for human life becasue we do not treat this like an all out war. Because of that, we will be fighting this war with the same intelligence we do the war on drugs.

    ReplyDelete
  38. "There is multiple books out that detail the simple fact that we shoot prisoners of war and that some were beaten before being shot. I hate to break it to you, but mr google is not the ultimate authority on history."

    Tragic things happen during wartime. That doesn't make them right. Richard points to the Army Field manual because it is the guide (and law) for our soldiers to follow. Some men doing horrible things during war is different than our own government endorsing those horrible things (as is the case with the previous administration and waterboarding).

    We should not be, as a matter of policy, endorsing torture. We should be doing that which is right; treating prisoners humanely. We should be following that which is outlined in the Army Field manual, the Geneva Conventions, and the UN Convention Against Torture.

    When soldiers, on either side of a battle, are found to be treating prisoners inhumanely, they should be held accountable for their actions. We should make it clear that the US does not support the use of torture.

    "We should never go to war easily, but when we put troops in harms way, nothing we have in our arsenal should be taken off the table to save their lives."

    Intrinsic evil should be taken off the table.

    Torture and the use of nuclear and chemical weapons on civilian populations should all be off the table.

    "The object is to make the other poor bastard die for his country."

    The object in a just war is to defend oneself, one's country, and eventual peace. That men, on both sides of a war, have to die because of this is a shame, but it is the reality.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Mr. Anonymous

    RE: Legality of torture

    The USA is signatory to the Geneva Convention which outlaw torture. The Supreme Court found that the Convention protections apply to all prisoners and detainees. Federal Statue forbids torture as does DOD directive.

    In other words torture is immoral, illegal and stupid because it ruins the subject for proper intelligence exploitation.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    ReplyDelete
  40. "Does the army speak for the entire government of the USA? I don't think you would get agreement from any other agency on that topic."

    You would be wrong about that because the Commander in Chief agreed with them. From Executive Order 13491, signed January 22, 2009:
    Effective immediately, an individual in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, in any armed conflict, shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2 22.3 (Manual).

    More:
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/EnsuringLawfulInterrogations

    ReplyDelete
  41. From Executive Order 13491, signed January 22, 2009:
    Effective immediately, an individual in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, in any armed conflict, shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2 22.3 (Manual).


    So of course this ends the use of torture and this site is no longer necesary? I thought th idea was that torture had not yet been eliminated. After all the commander has put it in writing. Case closed.

    This of course sets him up for serious trouble when the next terrorist is given his rights as if they were Americans. That should just about end this nonesense once and for all.

    Tragic things happen in war. Tragic things have been ordered by leadership in other wars including WWII. Those dropped on Normandy the night before were told to not get tied up with prisoners but to silence them. Those captured were killed. After seeing what was done to many of those parchuting in by the nazi, there was also some very horrible things done to surrendering nazi over the next few weeks. But I have yet to see that they were waterboarded God forbid.

    ReplyDelete
  42. "This of course sets him up for serious trouble when the next terrorist is given his rights as if they were Americans. That should just about end this nonesense once and for all."

    So, just so that I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that the only possible way to stop terrorists is to torture them?

    "Tragic things happen in war. Tragic things have been ordered by leadership in other wars including WWII. Those dropped on Normandy the night before were told to not get tied up with prisoners but to silence them. Those captured were killed. After seeing what was done to many of those parchuting in by the nazi, there was also some very horrible things done to surrendering nazi over the next few weeks. But I have yet to see that they were waterboarded God forbid."

    We also killed over 100,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That doesn't make it right.

    Yes, war is hell. Yes, tragic things happen during wartime. That doesn't mean that we should be, as a matter of policy, encouraging such things to happen. And, when people do things that are wrong, they should be held accountable.

    ReplyDelete