Tuesday, September 19, 2006



He's got Bush's number.

What torture produces in practice is misinformation, as its victims, desperate to end the pain, tell interrogators whatever they want to hear.... So why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people? To show that it can. The central drive of the Bush administration - more fundamental than any particular policy - has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president's power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it's a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they're asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.

What torture produces in practice is misinformation, as its victims, desperate to end the pain, tell interrogators whatever they want to hear....

So why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people?

To show that it can.

I'm actually not sure that's really it. Have you ever known any other administration to have the same single-minded desire to hear only what they want to hear?

Torture is a perfect tactic for them because it generates, not genuine intelligence, but fake intelligence that serves their agenda.
As a happy corollary, when the nation rejects Dubya, it will reject all of his practices. So, for example, extraordinary rendition-- to which Clinton opened the door a crack-- will be remembered as "a war crime technique." That was the upside of Watergate. We had 20 years of cleaner law enforcement/intelligence.
How do you define torture?

What interrogation techniques would you allow if you were in charge and had reason to believe that 1) a terrorist attack was imminent and 2) a terrorist in custody was witholding information about said attack?

Ummm...golly gee, I suppose, ummm, I would hug him and ask him to give peace a chance.

What do we want?!


We do we want it?!

Spectator, I would not use an interrogation technique that would give the prisoner so high a motivation to tell lies just to make the interrogation stop. False information won't stop a terrorist attack.
That's evasive. What WOULD you do?

That is, besides carp from the sidelines.
Got any real-life instances of the scenario you suggest, Spectator? (And no, episodes of "24" don't count.)
Got any real-life instances of your scenario, Spectator? (And no, episodes of "24" don't count.)

Or is this elaborately-contrived scenario as fictional as my other favorite right-wing nonsense nugget, the "all the poor farmers who go bankrupt because of the 'death tax'" one?
Terrorists? What terrorists?

No wonder Democrats keep losing elections.

You've learned nothing since 9/11. The war against Islamofascism is a joke to you. The USA is the real enemy, and Bush is the devil, right?

You won't find this discussed in your Chomsky library, but...

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

Again, I ask, how would you interrogate a terrorist, such as Khalid?
Interesting that you'd mention KSM, Spectator. KSM re-hooked up with Osama bin Laden after the 1998 embassy bombings, at a time when Republicans like you were hollering "WAG THE DOG!" every time he made a move to go after Osama. "He's just a harmless little old Saudi banker! C'mon!" they'd say.

Clinton had tried for years to get Osama's US assets frozen, so as to severely hinder his ability to fund terror operations. But Phil Gramm (Republican-TX), at the behest of his buddies in the banking industry, blocked every one of Clinton's efforts to do so. It wasn't until a month AFTER 9/11 that Gramm and the GOP Congress finally moved to freeze bin Laden's assets.

Spectator, if Bush hadn't invaded Iraq just to try to replace the US bases that went bye-bye in the area when the Shah skipped out of neighboring Iran back in 1979, the "Islamofascists" (talk about a bogus word, right up there with "National Socialist" as a mushy-meaninged non sequitur) wouldn't be running Iraq right now, much less using Iraq and Afghanistan as terrorist hideouts.

Want to stop terrorism? Try make sure your President is reading the Presidential Daily Briefings, such as the one for August 6, 2001 that detailed bin Laden's intention to strike within the US. If you spend all your time trying to invent scenarios and excuses to use ineffective and sadistic interrogation methods on people whose skin tone is darker than yours, you're not fighting terrorism, you're just a racist punk looking for a socially acceptable outlet for your evil.

Another thing: If, as Condi Rice was saying, "nobody anticipated" that terrorists might hijack commercial planes use them in terror incidents -- Why was John Ashcroft warned in July of 2001 to stop flying commercial aircraft?

As for KSM: Well, guess what?

He's already been tortured -- and holds the current world record for withstanding waterboarding before breaking -- and it's debatable whether he's actually given his captors anything useful. In fact, at least one other waterboarded captive, Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi, wound up confessing to things he could never have done simply to make the tortures stop:

The techniques are controversial among experienced intelligence agency and military interrogators. Many feel that a confession obtained this way is an unreliable tool. Two experienced officers have told ABC that there is little to be gained by these techniques that could not be more effectively gained by a methodical, careful, psychologically based interrogation. According to a classified report prepared by the CIA Inspector General John Helgerwon and issued in 2004, the techniques "appeared to constitute cruel, and degrading treatment under the (Geneva) convention," the New York Times reported on Nov. 9, 2005.

It is "bad interrogation. I mean you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough," said former CIA officer Bob Baer.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer and a deputy director of the State Department's office of counterterrorism, recently wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "What real CIA field officers know firsthand is that it is better to build a relationship of trust … than to extract quick confessions through tactics such as those used by the Nazis and the Soviets."

One argument in favor of their use: time. In the early days of al Qaeda captures, it was hoped that speeding confessions would result in the development of important operational knowledge in a timely fashion.

However, ABC News was told that at least three CIA officers declined to be trained in the techniques before a cadre of 14 were selected to use them on a dozen top al Qaeda suspects in order to obtain critical information. In at least one instance, ABC News was told that the techniques led to questionable information aimed at pleasing the interrogators and that this information had a significant impact on U.S. actions in Iraq.

According to CIA sources, Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi, after two weeks of enhanced interrogation, made statements that were designed to tell the interrogators what they wanted to hear. Sources say Al Libbi had been subjected to each of the progressively harsher techniques in turn and finally broke after being water boarded and then left to stand naked in his cold cell overnight where he was doused with cold water at regular intervals.

His statements became part of the basis for the Bush administration claims that Iraq trained al Qaeda members to use biochemical weapons. Sources tell ABC that it was later established that al Libbi had no knowledge of such training or weapons and fabricated the statements because he was terrified of further harsh treatment.

"This is the problem with using the waterboard. They get so desperate that they begin telling you what they think you want to hear," one source said.

I have asked you three times now what you consider effective interrogation techniques, and you have evaded the question three separate times.

I'm not inventing scenarios, either. The CIA interrogations of Khalid involved waterboarding.

You've never once asked me what I would consider acceptable. You just assume that I'm a fire-breathing sadistic minion of Devil Bush.

That's okay. I'll leave now. Please continue your daily practice of marginalizing yourself.
If no one is interested in your opinion, Spectator, it might have to do with the fact that you have done nothing except pour out scorn on others.

People on this blog have well-informed, well-thought through positions on torture. The ones at the margins are increasingly the ones who use demagogy and fake emotion to pretend to discredit their opponents.

That's presumably why you avoid the points raised by PhoenixWoman in favor of jeering.
Oh charles, give me a break. The opinions on this blog are so well thought out that I can't even get a response to a simple question at the center of this debate. What interrogation techniques would you use to extract information from a known terrorist?

I have written a 219 word description of my position, Spectator.

I will gladly post it if you will start abiding by the Terms of Service you freely agreed to obey by signing onto Blogger, most importantly the promise to avoid abusive posting.

And if you won't, well, p--- off.
Abusive posting?

Like: "you're just a racist punk looking for a socially acceptable outlet for your evil."


Anyway, where is this 210-word post? I'm sincerely interested in what a committed leftist would do were they in charge of conducting an interrogation of a known terrorist.

You got a dose of what you were dishing, Spectator. If it had been my thread, I would have deleted your posts rather than explain to you why using strawmen and baiting people over their political beliefs are abusive or why the term "Islamofascism" is offensive. We are all just d--ned tired of the arrogance on the right.

You are not a person of your word, but I am a person of mine. You will find the essay here.
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