That it was so debilitating that it was only used in extreme cases.
Now this guy is waterboarded 3 times a day for a month, basically at every meal (if you want to think about it in terms of frequency).
It seems clear that it is not rare; and that it doesn't really deliver results.
Again and again, we have been lied to about waterboarding, how often it is done, what level of use we get out of it, etc.
And, this is just 1 example - there could well be other methods of torture and many other cases of incompetence... makes you want to say "you know what? Let's just scrap the whole thing..."
If waterboarding was a piece of software it would be considered too crashy and unreliable and a replacement that worked better would be sought immediately.
We handled interrogations with Nazis better. We showed them respect and they gave us valuable information.
It leads me to believe intelligence wasn't the main motivator for the continued torture of these people, but only an excuse.
Not to mention make them more pliable and potentially willing to give a false testimony just to make it end. Not that false testimonies have ever been tortured out of people by governments before.
At the end of WWII in Europe, Churchill wanted to simply string up the captured leaders. The US pushed for trials -- and the Soviets agreed since they felt it legitimized their own show trial apparatus.
To paraphrase Pogo: we met the enemy and he was us.
Only there is no possible replacement so they just continue using the same horrible thing. If there is one thing people are terrible at it's understanding that not doing something is often a viable option.
This poses a further question. Was the invasion decided apon based on the belief such intelligence was true or was this confession rather something to justify a decision ?
Winston Churchill's criticism of torture is that it was not useful because you were told what you want to hear - under torture the victim will say anything to make it stop.
Enhanced Interrogation is a euphemism. That the actions described in the article are torture is clear.
This straw man illustrates that at some point, it isn't the tool, but the process that's flawed. Even if your tool is accurate, if you don't believe it, you can't get at the truth, and if you work hard enough you can find a broken tool to tell you what you want.
So perhaps there is some truth to the idea that torture can extract true information from people, but if the whole process operates like the above straw man, it totally invalidates the use of the tool.
What you get is what happened during WWII, when the resistances knew they just had to withstand torture for 24 hours, 48 at most. It's amazing what motivated people can do when they have a goal, and that goes for the tortured as well as the torturers.
So it didn't deliver at all.
If waterboarding is not an efficient way to get reliable information, then I'd be very curious to hear about what definition of "work" you're using where waterboarding might satisfy, but fail in this particular instance.
Torture is illegal under the Eight Amendment. The Supreme Court has affirmed this multiple times.
If we're going to go against legal precedent as well as international convention, the burden of proof for torture's effectiveness is on torture advocates. The evidence provided does not stand up to scrutiny.
But if it doesn't work reliably, for whatever "work" means, then it doesn't matter if it's successful sometimes and unsuccessful other times because if you don't have a way to distinguish the success from the failure, it's impossible to measure.
That's why I asked you to clarify what you mean when you say it might "work".
neither option suggests the technique is useful
it's also about as immoral as you can get
I think this case make it obvious that it's impossible to tell if the person you're torturing has the information you're looking for and is withholding it, or simply doesn't have the information. That's a textbook definition of "ineffective".
Also: Why Torture Doesn't Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation 
And there's so much things that are revolting that our brains are just shutting down as a self defense mechanism.
Sociopaths in power don't even need to hide anymore, they know they are hidden in the noise.
I mean look at Turkey : they help ISIS, they shoot Syrian refugees crossing the border, they kill their own Kurdish population and they denies a genocide ... barely a blip in the news.
This might sound harsh but look beyond the metaphor; if I wake up in the morning and find poop in the toilet, it's not really such a big surprise. But if I find poop on the kitchen table, well we have reason to be concerned now.
The same as when they are "our" dictators, or "theirs". Whether the government is murdering "communists in their 10s / 100s of thousands or whether the government is trying to improve the lot of the country's people via social programs at the experience of foreign (our) international businesses.
The article implies that the government was totally wrong about Abu Zubaydah and, therefore, he was totally innocent But to prove that the article cites to the court memo that says the US government doesn't alleged Zubaydah was a member of al Qaeda.
But the government still alleged he ran an independent terrorist training camp that was affiliated with al Qaeda. The gov't just didn't "contend that Petitioner was a 'member' of al-Qaida in the sense of having sworn bayat (allegiance) or having otherwise satisfied any formal criteria that either Petitioner or al-Qaida may have considered necessary for inclusion in al~Qaida. Nor is the Government detaining Petitioner based on any allegation that Petitioner views himself as part of al-Qaida as a matter of subjective personal conscience, ideology, or worldview. Rather, Respondent's detention of Petitioner is based on conduct and actions that establish Petitioner was 'part of' hostile forces and 'substantially supported' those forces."
Much like idiots, assholes cannot possibly realize that they are being assholes. It's one of the symptoms. They're actually completely confident that what they're doing makes total sense. It's a touch-and-go sorta thing; how do you openly confront assholery without becoming a huge asshole? I call this the Snowden dilemma. It's a real problem.
We are well past the point of occasionally waking up to find feces on the kitchen table. The majority of this country is subsisting entirely on a diet of pure shit. I don't want to seem elitist - I regard myself as a world class dummy - but I do know what shit tastes like and I understand that eating it is bad for you. I don't have any answers but I think we're in a lot of trouble here.
"Democracy always seems bent upon killing the thing it theoretically loves. [...] It not only wars upon the thing itself; it even wars upon mere academic advocacy of it. I offer the spectacle of Americans jailed for reading the Bill of Rights as perhaps the most gaudily humorous ever witnessed in the modern world." --H.L. Mencken
The problem is that the diet of pure shit serves a purpose. It keeps people both agitated and docile at the same time. The kind of agitated and docile you would recognize in a cranky 80 yr man who shouts at clouds. Angry and uncomfortable, but ultimately harmless; miles away from taking an AK-47 and marching on Washington, and ultimately willing to pull the lever for the blue or red party, or best, not vote at all.
Apparently so will our Liberal president:
I hope that today’s report can help us leave these [torture] techniques where they belong—in the past.
Why do we accept this notion of torture as a heroic virtue, when it's obviously not? I think we're unable to assimilate the alternative - that our national myths are all false, that we are subject to an evil torture state, that our security apparatus is beyond democratic control or the rule of law. All of these are horrific, monstrous possibilities that we can't confront, so it's much easier for us to rationalize them away by suggesting that the CIA's actions are not, actually, evil.
Determining otherwise requires an act of national catharsis, a revolution in our understanding of ourselves as a political entity. We are not safe, good, democratic. We are venal, aggressive, evil. Making this confrontation will take more than just a factual understanding.
Now that the US doesn't actually fear having large numbers of troops captured, and even if they did their opponents have no desire to reciprocate treatment, they're "free" to engage in whatever horrific behavior they would like, and vise versa.
Lind is good on this: http://www.amazon.com/Generation-Warfare-Handbook-William-Li...
Reminds me of this.
Torture is wrong; no matter who is doing it or who it is being done to.
Yes, good point, I should have said "dropped the claims being made" or something like that.
A) You dash to the rolltop and feverishly write letters to every politician you can think of. You then get on a bus with a bunch of other upset people, go to DC and wave signs with clever catch phrases. You then live in a tent on public space for several weeks.
B) You consider this information, your feelings, and your prior model of the way the world worked. Methodically you reexamine long unchallenged precepts related to morality, the role of the state, and the logical consistency of the entire endeavor. After a while you find that things make a lot more sense, you are no longer experience the effects of cognitive dissonance when new information hits your brain. You share this new understanding, through example (maybe by pestering strangers online, either or).
Clearly I favor option B, but one could easily deride it as slacktivism - though the self reflection is not something you often see in #Kony2012. Every example of positive change that I can think, involved marching and rhyming slogans, would not have been possible without a great deal of uncomfortable self examination.
Just about anybody with a Middle-Eastern-sounding name and the slightest plausible connection to or proximity with "Al Qaeda" (conveniently defined and delimited by the torturers themselves) would have been equally useful for this purpose. There is no "right" man, no "wrong" man. That's torture. It's a show, a blood pageant. It's reading the Tarot or goat entrails.
That's the system, the procedure you defend when you apologize for torture.
The 3 letters 'CIA' now strike fear into the hearts of innocent people across the globe.
but then comes fleeting moment of satisfaction when some of them are shot, kidnapped etc... yeah, that's how despised they are
I think that understates things a bit - I'm not aware of any other group in history that has freely wrought global havoc for so long, torturing, killing, trafficking in drugs, destroying lives, destroying whole nations...
Honestly, they are terrifying.
I clicked the x button again and it did the same fucking thing, so I gave them the email address email@example.com, found the article I was trying to read and noticed that it was sourced from the link I dropped above. That page loaded quickly and showed me what I wanted to see, the content.
Pop-ups suck, and I wish my browser's pop-up blocker would also block these inline e-mail asking dialogs in every site.
There are some out there that sort of do what I want, but I really just want to right click on the annoying popup/ad/whatever and select delete from the contextual menu, or something like that.
Here's the Google cache version: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Itp90I0...
The CIA is a sickening and surprisingly amateurish organisation. Their actions over the past decades have ruined the United States' international moral authority. It's laughable whenever some US politician goes on TV and proclaims that America is some magical paragon of liberal democratic virtue. It's a sick joke.
"And even if it had been true, what the CIA did to Abu Zubaydah—with the knowledge and approval of the highest government officials—is a prime example of the kind of still-unpunished crimes that officials like Dick Cheney, George Bush, and Donald Rumsfeld committed in the so-called Global War on Terror."
... from very near the beginning of the article.
>People being tortured don't tell you valuable information; they tell you whatever they think will make the torture stop.
You're already asserting your position, and disguising it as a question. Virtually everyone seriously condoning torture believe it is effective. If they were to believe it wasn't effective, they wouldn't order it to be done.
You may think it's not effective, but that should be argued on its own merit. You're assuming the conclusion, then pretending that everyone else does and are therefore unjustified.
I think a very high number of "torture proponents" are simply in favor of hurting the "bad guys" and don't even care that there might be information to be had.
Donald Trump said it best, to an arena full of cheering supporters:
"If it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway, for what they’re doing"
In his mind, and the minds of his constituents, the "information gathering" aspect is a sly wink at the other sadists in the room.
The discussion on the US' RDI program begins at about 30:25.
What a cute military acronym.
>In his mind, and the minds of his constituents, the "information gathering" aspect is a sly wink at the other sadists in the room.
I'm not so sure. You could have a model where the main purpose of torture is for information, and the value of that information is so much that you don't need a high chance of it being effective, and even if it's not effective there's not too much harm done. Trump has certainly claimed it to be effective.
Torture factually isn't effective. https://www.cgu.edu/pdffiles/sbos/costanzo_effects_of_interr...
For me personally, the effectiveness of torture is irrelevant. Maybe it is for you as well, I don't know from your comment. It's something we should not do, full stop.
Also, your hypothetical is absurdly biased in favor of torture, given that any real information retrieved would be a needle in the haystack of the aforementioned useless bullshit.
Even if it were 100% effective - every person tortured did exactly what the torturer wanted - it would still be unjustifiable because it is so morally repugnant.
Trying to stress the point with weird hypotheticals just emphasizes that the weird hypotheticals don't reflect the facts of what results torture gives.
I imagine for the head of the CIA or Mossad or MI5, these aren't weird hypotheticals but real decisions. We need to tell them as a society that we do not accept torture, whatever results it would bring.
If you had any ability to distinguish the truth involved from the bullshit, you wouldn't need to waste time torturing anyone in the first place.
Not that simple. They "say" they believe is it is effective. The reason they do it is not necessarily the same.
People have sadistic tendencies and will torture and inflict pain on others just for pleasure and amusement. Bullies do it on playgrounds, people in power do it to their subordinates, others torture animals for pleasure and so on.
I don't buy the idea that just because they ended up as advisory experts to the Pentagon, or they rose into power it somehow means those tendencies are not there.
But it is behind a paywall :/
By all means, feel free to argue the merits of my 'pre-emptive counter-counter argument' (boy this is getting confusing). Or if you like, feel free to argue the merits of some alternative justification for torturing people. Here, I'll start you off:
- It's a good deterrent to <x> behaviour
- It's fun
- It hurts people we don't like
- The victim is a witch, and we need to find out who the other witches are
I just found the unsaid implication, that torture is fine if the person does possess information you want to know, worth examining. Perhaps consider it this way: imagine all of the assertions made by the Bush administration about the victim were correct; he really was the Al-Qaeda 2nd in command, he had smuggled high-ranked Al-Qaeda members out of Afghanistan etc.
Would there be a defensible justification to torture him, and what would that justification be?
I'm not even sure that's true. I think the perception of the CIA (perhaps due to generally positive portrayals of it on TV and in movies) is completely different to, say, the perception people have of the Stasi or KGB.
And yet did those organizations, which people rightly consider to be bad, actually do anything worse than the CIA has been doing in the last 70 years?
We usually think of this as a drugs-for-arms Iran-Contra-type of affair, but for most spy agencies, real estate is the way to go: it's easy to obfuscate ownership, the value tends to hold or rise, and nobody's gonna steal your condominium when you're not looking.
Sarasota FL has an interestingly high concentration of expensive property and people with clandestine connections. (It also has one of the highest rates of climate change denial, a thought for another time) "He works in real estate" is a common implication.
So to answer your question, how much propaganda does the CIA fund:
You will never, ever know.
It is going to take Western history a long time to get over its Communist apologists like Hobsbawm and be willing to fully accept the horrors that system spawned.
Yes, they did.
The average American is not personally affected by anything the CIA does. Can the same be said about the KGB?
The FSB their successor did assassinate a dissident in London (Litvinenko), which the UK government ignored until Russia became sufficiently persona non grata lately.
Even just taking the example in this thread, a monstrous program of 'black sites' set up around the world specifically to torture innocent people indefinitely, where is the KGB version?
Leaving aside any comparisons, if they're a distraction, why is an organization that does the terrible things the CIA has done throughout its history not only tolerated in a civilized democracy, but actually still viewed generally positively?
I'm pretty sure everyone involved thought the person was not innocent. This is not a fair description.
Also, as far as I can tell the claim is just that he wasn't part of al-Qaida or some of the other stuff he was accused of, not that he's completely innocent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Zubaydah#Biography_and_ear...
>Zubaydah eventually became involved in the jihad training site known as the Khalden training camp, where he oversaw the flow of recruits and obtained passports and paperwork for men transferring out of Khalden.
This is always true of almost everyone arrested by the police: they're arrested because they're suspects. Suspicion is not grounds for torture. Guilt is not grounds for torture either! That's what the 8th Amendment is about.
Torture is, in and of itself, a crime against humanity under international law and the laws of war. This is not a theoretical point, it was used in the post-WW2 war crimes trials to prosecute even low-ranking staff who were involved in systematic torture. The Allies executed people for torture.
>Suspicion is not grounds for torture. Guilt is not grounds for torture either! That's what the 8th Amendment is about.
Morally, you have a point. But from your mention of the 8th Amendment, it looks like you're talking legally, in which case only US citizens and people covered under relevant international agreements have such rights.
"The Constitution does distinguish in some respects between the rights of citizens and noncitizens: the right not to be discriminatorily denied the vote and the right to run for federal elective office are expressly restricted to citizens.12 All other rights, however, are written without such a limitation. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection guarantees extend to all "persons." The rights attaching to criminal trials, including the right to a public trial, a trial by jury, the assistance of a lawyer, and the right to confront adverse witnesses, all apply to "the accused." And both the First Amendment's protections of political and religious freedoms and the Fourth Amendment's protection of privacy and liberty apply to "the people.""
The restriction to US citizens isn't in the text of the constitution, which is written in the passive voice:
> "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted"
But a bit more digging reveals that it was explicitly banned by US law some time ago, making this discussion of its legality moot: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/20...
What are so-called 'black sites' set up for then, if not to torture people who have not been charged with let alone convicted of anything (ie, are innocent)?
>A finding of actual innocence, as that term has come to be used in federal habeas corpus jurisprudence, is not the equivalent of a finding of not guilty by a jury or by a court in a bench trial.
Innocent means that they didn't do anything legally wrong. Plenty of uncharged and unconvicted people have broken the law.
One of the most sacred principles
in the American criminal justice
system, holding that a defendant
is *innocent* until proven guilty.
I can't believe anyone would bother making such a fatuous point, to which the obvious response is simply: plenty of uncharged and unconvicted (and even convicted for that matter) people have not broken the law.
Now can you answer the question you evaded in my last post:
If stating that black sites are set up specifically to detain people without charge and torture them is "misleading", according to you, please explain what you believe the purpose of black sites is.
Which is entirely irrelevant. Your claim was that innocent simply meant not found guilty, which is incorrect. There's a "presumption" of innocence: "innocence" means they actually didn't do it, and the law assumes they're in that state until proven otherwise. That doesn't mean everyone presumed innocent is innocent.
>If stating that black sites are set up specifically to detain people without charge and torture them is "misleading", according to you, please explain what you believe the purpose of black sites is.
I didn't say that. I specifically suggested you use "unconvicted", but if you'd used "uncharged" it would be fine. The word innocent is problematic for reasons I've explained.
What I said is: "by definition, the people being tortured, not having been found guilty of any crime, are innocent". Which is not incorrect.
I'm going to assume you know the principle of innocent until proven guilty, since it was in my last reply, quoted from Cornell's Law site.
> the law assumes they're in that state until proven otherwise. That doesn't mean everyone presumed innocent is innocent.
Okay, point me to a legal principle akin to innocent until proven guilty that instead states might not be innocent even if they have not been found guilty.
> The word innocent is problematic for reasons I've explained.
That it's problematic for you does not make it problematic.
There's presumption of innocence and hen there's actually innocent.
That's not what innocent means. You should use unconvicted.
And I also agree it's important to make this distinction, and for people to define what they mean by 'verify'. In my mind, the information is verified if the safe unlocks, the bomb is defused etc. The danger, I think, is when people consider 'verified' to include 'corroborating information obtained through torture'. This tends to lead you to false conclusions (e.g. half the women in your village are witches, as they all implicated each other when they were tortured).
Just waterboarding till you get a story you like is obviously bullshit but this also does not tell you much about the potential efficacy of torture.
And this is exactly, how we learned about the witches and why we had to burn them.
"If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged."
- Cardinal Richelieu
We want it to be justified, not honorable. Nobody gives two shits about honor as soon as it is about "them" (whoever fits that definition currently).
Remember at school. When one child get punished, all the other childs of the class become quiet. The main desired effect of torture is manipulation of population. They do not care if the tortured guy speaks or dies, they want to inspire fear.
I think it is the only way to understand how something so barbare and so ineffective (in its direct purpose) is still used. TV series should stop disinformation (pretending torture works and presenting torture as acceptable).
Torture is unacceptable.
Almost exclusively by the heroes, and it always works almost instantly. It says something about the people writing them.
I can't wait for the episode of Daredevil where he spends a month and a half torturing someone for information.
Remember all of those scenes in movies from the 70s and earlier when halfway through the rape, the woman starts to get into it, and when we cut to the morning after she's like "never leave me," and now the viewer is expected to sympathise with the rapist and his victim against the world?
It's a snapshot of the mindset of elites.
> Remember at school. When one child get punished, all the other childs of the class become quiet. The main desired effect of torture is manipulation of population. They do not care if the tortured guy speaks or dies, they want to inspire fear.
This is only way torture is effective. Except, in this context, the more accurate term for it is terrorism.
Actually, no. I've seen plenty of old movies, but I don't recall many rape scenes, much less such rape scenes where the rapist is meant to be sympathized with, or where the rape victim takes pleasure in it.
Sure, but this is just a thought experiment.
In real life, these kind of tactics simply don't work.
It's just very hard to tell when somebody doesn't know anything. And they will start making up information to make it stop. i.e. 10 guys and you have reason to believe one of them may have hidden a bomb somewhere.
The people who commit acts like the Boston Marathon Bombings, the Brussels Bombings, 9/11, etc. - these people are not our friends. If given the opportunity, they would kill every single one of us.
So if the people who are on our side feel they need to use torture on these people to keep us safe, I'm not going to argue with them.
The Bush administration said that Abu Zubaydah was al-Qai'da; he was not. They said he helped bin Laden escape Afghanistan; he did not.
They said he had intelligence justifying the invasion of Iraq; he had none. Every justification they gave for his imprisonment and torture was either disproved or a simple lie, and yet they continued. In the end, their justification was simply, "He hates us, and we hate him."
This is a troubling basis on which to exercise military power. And once the executive arrogates for himself the power to place persons beyond the pale of domestic and international customary law, it's very hard to keep that demon in the box where you want him. To paraphrase, when all the laws lay flat, what will hide us from unjust power?
So it's hard for me to see Schmitt's theory as anything other than the normalization of the diktat to resolve political conflicts; if the state demands orthodoxy amongst its "friends," and the executive is empowered to punish deviant "enemies," and the executive's decision to impose an exception is unreviewable (which is a Schmittian prerequisite for executive power), then the state of exception essentially never ends -- as Germany found out with the Reichstag emergency.
What are your thoughts -- am I taking him too far? Can he be read a bit more kindly, perhaps as a more formal and rigid version of the old saw, "the Constitution is not a suicide pact?" Or was he, like Machiavelli, more descriptive than prescriptive in his assessments?
As I said, it's been years since I read Schmitt, but I found him to be, ah, bracing as a thinker, a kind of prebuttal to the concept of a negotiated society that would later preoccupy thinkers like Habermas. I'd just rather live in a Rawlsian or Habermasian world than one in which political disagreements are treated as a flashpoint for war.
Having said that, this mix of academic, positive right thinking, in the context of the abolishment of a state of law and civil society probably makes this all even more evil.
As the article illustrates, we don't know the person is a threat to our national security. We'll never know with 100% accuracy. The only available options are to accept occasionally torturing people who are innocent or disagreeing with torture and not using it. Most of the civilised world has agreed that the danger of mistakenly torturing innocent people isn't worth it.
When we disagree we should answer. This is what I'm going try to do.
First, you say "If given the opportunity, they would kill every single one of us". That's not true. Those terrorist acts have politic goals.
Then, you say "So if the people who are on our side feel they need.." Here you assume that those people is in your side, and that they shouldn't be under control. Two assumptions that I recommend you to give more consideration.
> First, you say "If given the opportunity, they would kill every single one of us". That's not true. Those terrorist acts have politic goals.
Certain segments of the western Political scene very much want to believe this, but I'm skeptical. They said that Hitler wasn't serious about his rhetoric either, that it was all politics. In fact, he meant it all, and indeed went on to start the biggest war in history and slaughter millions.
They downplayed the extremism of the ISIS types, and look what we have there. Just what we've seen so far is quite bad enough, and we haven't even gotten a full look at the situation.
Do we not at least owe the enemy the respect of believing they really intend to do exactly what they say they want to do? And they most certainly are the enemy of everything that we in the West hold dear.
The explicit goal of ISIS is the creation of a caliphate. A caliphate is an area governed by a caliph that enforce their strict interpretation of the quran in their limits.
The terrorist acts that we suffer in the west have mainly two aims: terrorize the civil population so they force the governments to stop acting in the area and attract fighters to their cause.
If something, their ideal world is not one where they kill us all but where they convert us all.
Can you tell me where you heard/read that they want "to kill us all"? Is in the same place where they say that they just "hate our freedoms"?
And of course they do, because the implementation encourages it. Downvoting has no consequence, it allows people to express disagreement with zero effort, and they even get a chance to hide posts they don't like. If I were designing a site to be an echo chamber, reddit-style voting is the killer feature I'd want to have.
EVERY opinion is protected, unless it doesn't agree with the "masses"...