A towel was put over his mouth and nose. Then one of the guards picked up a long rubber hose, turned a faucet on full force, and directed the stream onto the towel. The water soaked through, blocking Lomax’s mouth and nose. He gagged and frantically gasped for breath as water filled his throat. His stomach began to swell. He was drowning on dry land. When the towel was finally removed and Lomax had recovered from his delirium, he still refused to confess and name his confederates. The water torture began once more.
The memorandum describes in detail each of the techniques proposed as generally used, including attention grasp, walling, facial hold, insult slap, cramped confinement (large and small and with and without an insect), wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding.
The Bybee Memos, authored by the Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States and signed by Assistant Attorney General. These techniques were used by the US on suspected terrorists.
I hate how the line between the good guys and the bad guys is so blurred I sometimes question if it exists at all.
What? You still believe in Hollywood-style good guys and bad guys? Do you think that the Japanese believed then that they were the bad guys?
I am very surprised to see the good guy/bad guy mistake here. Everyone thinks they are the good guy, because everyone has reasons for what they do, otherwise they wouldn't do it. Even the nazis were exterminating Jews for the good of their country, or so they told themselves.
What a boring, predictable response, that missed the whole point.
Of course I don't believe in Hollywood-style good guys vs bad guys.
But I used to believe that the US saw themselves as "good" and that self-image acted as a self-imposed limiter on deliberate policies that the US would enact.
For example, one could argue that internment of people of Japanese background during WW2 was evil. However, there possibly is an argument that some of them may have had mixed loyalties, and that acted as justification.
One might also argue that incidents like the deliberate infection of native Americans with smallpox were evil, but they localized incidents, and not something that was endorsed at the highest levels of government.
I don't agree with either of these excuses, but I see that there is an argument one could make.
But to stoop as low as a policy of deliberate torture and pretend that is justified is beyond my understanding. I cannot see how anyone can truly believe in their justifications for that - except if they believe those that are being tortured are less than human.
I found out recently (yesterday) that the US occupation of the Philippines in the Philippine–American War was particularly brutal - here is a clipping from the NY Time describing the "water cure":
The only reason any of these people were interred was racism, plain and simple. Farmers in California didn't want them owning the land.
Yes, I'm able to say in perfect safety 70 years after the fact that it was a mistake. If I had been alive and asked on Dec 10, 1941 the same question, I doubt I'd give the same answer.
This is more myth than fact, and also predated the US by decades:
"Realistically, most people don't construct their life stories with themselves as the villains. Everyone is the hero of their own story."
Not all beliefs in good guys and bad guys are hollywood-style.
> Do you think that the Japanese believed then that they were the bad guys?
No, but I do think they were among the bad guys.
If everyone says "I'm not racist", you probably don't say "oh good, that's okay then" and decide racists don't exist.
From memory it goes something like this:
You're in a cabin with the track-switching equipment beside a railway. You can see in the distance a group of 5 people walking along the track. In the other direction you can see an out of control train. You can switch the tracks so the train will be diverted onto another track, avoiding the people and averting a catastrophe.
Most people switch the track.
But now you introduce a single person on the alternative track. If you do nothing 5 people will die. But if you switch tracks one person will die.
People find this a bit harder to think a out, and are hesitant to say that they'd switch the track.
It seems that if the single person is a TERRORIST that many people would switch the track. They might even switch the track if the single person was a taxi driver that someone else had said was a TERRORIST. They might even switch the track if the single person was an innocent relative of a supposed TERRORIST.
To me, the analogy is more like this:
You are mayor of a town. There might be a ticking timebomb in a school somewhere in your town. Watches tell the time and are similar to what is used in timebombs.
Should you (a) torture everyone who looks at a watch, because they might know about a timebomb that might exist, or (b) NOT TORTURE PEOPLE.
To me there is zero justification for deciding (a) in that scenario.
But that's my point: 1 man who would find a cure for millions or 5 who could potentially change the world (themselves or their kids)...
In the same way, the Father made an incalculable cost in giving up his only begotten son, so that no man shall suffer the second death, but experience eternal life.
I realised myself that although I abhor torture, if it was my child (or indeed any child) I would probably do anything to get the kidnapper to talk.
I agree that if you assume 'good guy' is an absolute, and any deviation from that one true path is 'bad guy', then everyone is a 'bad guy'. Then the terms becomes meaningless. But I consider these relative terms. For all its faults, the US is still closer to the 'good guy' than 'bad guy' side of the spectrum in most areas. North Korea is closer to the 'bad guy' than the 'good guy' side.
Do you think the person you were replying to would disagree with this? (I agree with it.) It seems more likely to me that they just weren't using the words "good guys" and "bad guys" in the ways you interpreted them.
So, no: "good guys" and "bad guys" were not meant as synonyms for "us" and "them" (unless you mean "us"="USA").
Remember this the next time you travel overseas. I guess we should hope local police forces don't decide this is acceptable behavior.
The guy who invented/instated these techniques is going around on a book tour now on all the news-tainment channels declaring how he did nothing wrong.
I should clarify he was the CIA top attorney who decided all waterboaring was perfectly legal and justified and still defends it in interviews to this day.
He and John Yoo should be tried for war crimes as well as those that gave and followed the orders. If we don't prosecute them, that makes it perfectly justified for other countries to do this to US citizens and declare it is not torture because the US insists it is not.
If I could bring back Donahue, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Donahue I think it would make an interesting discussion. Have all of the audience screened for what ever security clearance they need to witness an interrogation. The interrogation itself is on a 1 minute delay, incase they actually divulge something.
We get to see the audience witness an interrogation, 4k, HD whatever. They aren't in the same room, the interrogator doesn't know a thing.
Then the audience gets to ask John Rizzo and John Yoo why this is legal.
I can only imagine the outpouring of a Catholic housewife from Ohio ripping them a new asshole.
Reminder: It's been around 1800 days since Sean Hannity insisted that water-boarding wasn't torture and promised to be water-boarded for charity.
People who torture are bad guys. It doesn't matter if they torture us or they torture others on our behalf. They are the bad guys.
Thus philosophical debate has been going on for ages, like the medical advances made by horrific means by the nazis, or whether it's even ethical to listen to Wagner. Does good that comes from evil ever justify the evil? We wont solve that now or anytime, it's much the same debate as the one for the death penalty, because that's been shown time and time that it has no deterrent effect.
What about someone divining the information about the bomb from the entrails of puppies?
Why prefer one horrendous and inexact method over another?
((though maybe if the information was actually inside one of the puppies they'd do it because it's "just a puppy", whose lives are arguably less valuable than schoolchildren))
What if the information is engraved on someone's pacemaker? What if you know that the information is maybe perhaps possibly wrong?
If you think these scenarios are unlikely, FYI so is the "torturing to extract information about a bomb in a school" scenario.
What if you take into account the person you proposed should be tortured, most probably hasn't been formally found guilty?
What if you take into account that even if you think you're pretty sure, innocent people are sometimes found guilty (and even put to death)?
What if you take into account that this course of action means that you are now living in a society where torture is considered legitimate in a police investigation? Meaning that it will be used more often, and therefore with growing certainty at some point applied to innocent people (just like happens in places that still support the death penalty). How big of a school does it need to be, for you, to justify that? Including the part where you take into account that you can't be sure whether you will obtain any correct information at all.
(To flesh out the scenario, you receive a call from a terrorist. He assures you that he has placed bombs in two schools. To prove it, he blows up one school. He demands that you cut out prisoner 54325's left eyeball, and perform the sexual act upon the empty eye-socket to orgasm, on video. If you do not, he will blow up the second school.)
There are cases where there'd be a choice between acting ethically towards one person or saving a live of another. The dissonance is further amplified when there's more than one life at stake.
GP, just pretend your kid was kidnapped and be dead in 24 hours if you don't find him. Now, say, you have an unrestricted access to the kidnapper who knows where your child is.
Just pretend your kid was kidnapped and be dead in 24 hours if you don't find him. Now, say, you have an unrestricted access to someone that is accused of being the kidnapper. (By the way, he was accused by the former boyfriend of his daughter, because he didn’t like the relationship.) Now, you are lucky , and you get unrestricted access to a new suspect. (By the way, he is a moron the police incriminate because they must show some result to the press before the 11 news report.)
This is why we disapprove of vigilante justice. Because it can make any course of action seem like a good idea, given that you are sufficiently emotionally involved.
You should pick an example like "Well, if we torture the rival lord in to giving a false confession that he committed a crime, we can stabilize the political landscape of the kingdom."
You know, something torture is actualy good at.
The true bad people are the fat and comfortable leaders and agitators at home who send men to war.
My sister wrote a book about the experience called Norn Lup? A Journey Of Railways, Roads, & Wats. http://intrepid-girl.com/blog/writing/buy-the-book-norn-lup-...
And my brother made a documentary http://www.lukenowell.com/projects/lukenowell/thailandtrek/
Hope people don't mind these plugs but they both add value to the story behind this railway and the people who worked on it against their will.
You can read about their expedition here http://www.deathrailwaywalk.com/
I am going to use your response as a template to use for the rest of my life. It's perfect. Thank you in advance for the time and trouble you have saved me.
I'd like to think things would have been a lot better had he had the opportunity to meet some genuinely apologetic Japanese.
For example, Erich Priebke, who died last year, aged 100, always declared he was only "obeying orders" in setting up the massacre of 335 people (including children). Not only that, but his own son has always defended him and his actions.
This kind of attitude doesn't help much with forgiveness.
Seriously asking and not trying to be inflammatory. It is seriously just an interesting concern of where "following orders" stops being a valid excuse. For instance should drone operators controlling, attacks that kill a whole wedding convoy, be prosecuted for following orders? Weird world we live in.
Again not defending Erich Priebke just a jumping off point for interesting discussion.
Edit: Fix spelling
Yes. Not "executed", and not every soldier in every war; but torturers who hide behind orders should absolutely be brought to justice.
Of course, if their country as a whole decides torture is suddenly ok, or even cool (see most recent TV shows), then that won't happen.
The fact that it won't happen in the case of the US doesn't excuse the Nazis... or anyone, really.
I find it dismaying that currently our culture (most of the world, not just US) seems to have gone backwards in terms of recognizing torture/misguided killing/execution as a serious issue. There really is no excuse for such behavior, although happens in times of conflict, it should be accounted for at some point.
The ability of a country or people to recognize the wrongs of their past and move forward, rather than denying that they were wrong, seems an important thing.
Priebke got hit orders from hitler. Altought there are a few who disobeyed a direct order from hitler and lived to tell about it, Priebke, in his a circumstances would have probably been executed.
I think it's both, though the Jewish community has indeed been very vocal in popularizing the Nazi atrocities and establishing the term "Holocaust" to mean specifically the genocide of Jews in WW2. It is a crime to deny it in many countries.
It may seem as if the Jews were the focal point of the Nazi Aryan doctrine, however, the other sub-humans on the bottom of the racial ladder were the Slavic people and people of color. Russian death toll in the WW2 was more than 20 million people. Although, I never heard of the "Russian Holocaust".
This somewhat pisses on my battery. It makes me generally less sympathetic. Imagine if it was a "crime" to deny evolution. Even though I don't get the fundamentalist nut jobs and their creationist bullshit, it's absolutely unnecessary to make debate on a subject a "crime". It coveys a sense of weakness and bigotry.
... and the artists, and the gays and the communists and the ...
"It is not known precisely how many Roma were killed in the Holocaust. While exact figures or percentages cannot be ascertained, historians estimate that the Germans and their allies killed around 25 percent of all European Roma."
Or convinced he was doing the right thing and that resistance was worth it according to his value system.
I can't say, otherwise, never been tortured.
These days I live in Bangkok and have been fortunate enough to take the train that rides over the track these POW have made. It was a very humbling experience.
Especially the parts where the train drives through rocky areas where the walls have all been cut by human force, no explosives have been used.
It takes a whole day to drive the track which is among the parts that make it so hard to believe it has all been made by hand and that so many people have died while making it.
If you ever get a chance to visit, then I can highly recommend it.
Unfortunately looking at what these POW achieved is one of the few things we can do to honor those who suffered there.
The torture part is very easy to imagine, in this day and age, unfortunately.
The comments are internet cancer.
You have to keep in mind that even before the war in parts of Asia this was an era where a poor farmer might sell a daughter to pimps. This is stuff that was happening whether the imperial army was involved or not.
doesn't make it any less illegitimate and immoral. Oh, and it wasn't just Asian women, they enslaved European women too which made some part of the "Comfort Brigade". Surely, Dutch women weren't being pimped out by their own mothers? So this, "but everyone was doing it" from the mouths of the perpetrating nation themselves is claim which is dodgy in itself and and a lame excuse to cover up a war crime and crime against humanity and women. Your argument would be like saying it's somehow joie de vivre of the times, no, no other army conscripted armies of sex slaves to keep the morale of their troops in a losing battle against Allied forces.
Do you want to deny the holocaust too because "people just didn't know better back then", "scapegoating and suppressing and massacring minority population cuz thats what dictators do" so the fact that it happened is now questionable? Never mind the victims of holocaust themselves voicing their horrible experiences?
I can't believe I'm hearing garbage like this, out of all places, on hacker news.
I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but there is overwhelming evidence for the Japanese use of sex slaves in their army. Its not all based on victim testimony.