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News Torturing Democracy

  1. May 30, 2009 #1
    Last edited: May 30, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2009 #2
    watching right now actually. it's great (sort of). if it's on the website of the national security archive it must be.
  4. May 31, 2009 #3
    It is also now on youtube in 10 minute segments.
  5. May 31, 2009 #4


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    An interesting contrast -

    After Waterboarding: How to Make Terrorists Talk?

    The story has been picked up by many news organizations including Fox and Huffington Post.

    Forget Waterboarding, Try Cookies
  6. May 31, 2009 #5
    The sort of persons who are likely to be dertermined to require extreme measures are also likely to be too stuborn to give in to them. Certainly I don't think I could with stand waterboarding for long periods of time but if I truely felt I and my fellows are justified I would be quite unlikely to cooperate. I may resort to doing and saying things that may stop the treatment but the intense feeling of shame and guilt that would accompany giving up my compatriots would keep me from giving up any useful information.

    Anyone who would endure all of the interrogation techniques all the way to the waterboarding phase would likely rather die than give up information. People not so stuborn would be unlikely to make it to that phase.

    To make brutal interrogation techniques (or torture) work one has to be willing to go all the way. You can't use soft torture like waterboarding. From what I have read out right torture was never really used so much for information gathering as making an example to strike fear into those who might wind up in the turture chamber. Occasionally to break a person and get them to say what you wish them to and place them up as a puppet to serve as further example.

    Police primarily use psychological manipulation to fairly good effect.

    Thank you Edward. I started watching it and may finish it later.
  7. May 31, 2009 #6
    Torture is a rather dubious method for providing solid information. Waterboarding is a relatively light torture method. Other, more painful methods will get just about anyone to talk, but by that point they'd say anything to make it stop.

    Psychological ploys are better. If you can get someone to doubt their cause and bend them to your own, they'll willingly hand over good information.
  8. May 31, 2009 #7
    jesse ventura brought that up on the view. why didn't the police waterboard mcveigh & nichols after the oklahoma city bombing to see if there were anyone else involved?
  9. May 31, 2009 #8


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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  10. May 31, 2009 #9
    Because they didn't want to be convicted for assault, obviously.

    Domestic law enforcement isn't war, everyone is presumed innocent of any crime pre-conviction. Is that not commonly known?

    Why do people keep asking these questions?
  11. May 31, 2009 #10
    Some people have a problem with the fact that what we generally consider natural rights are often only applied to citizens.
  12. May 31, 2009 #11
    because many of those detainees haven't even been convicted, nor even charged, with anything, such as a *war crime*
  13. May 31, 2009 #12
    I'm one of those people, but it's easy to see the obvious difference between domestic law enforcement and war. The presumption of innocence has never been used in war.
  14. May 31, 2009 #13
    Setting the torture issue aside, when people are captured during a "war" (whether you agree that there is a war or not) they are considered POWs. POWs do not get charged or prosecuted, they simply get detained until the "war" is over and/or they are not deemed a threat. POWs, traditionally, do not get their day in court.
  15. May 31, 2009 #14
    How would that make a difference? No one has claimed that their detention or treatment is punishment for any crime. In war, people are killed and maimed without ever being charged with a crime. In domestic law enforcement it's illegal to intentionally harm someone except defending against an immediate threat.

    I'm not claiming that the treatment of those POW's was justified. Just that the reasons police can't torture suspects don't exist in their case. So it's a bad analogy that only detracts from the real issue of how to treat POW's.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2009
  16. May 31, 2009 #15
    My concern on this particular documentary isn't the torture. It is the devious ways by which it was darkly approved.
    Last edited: May 31, 2009
  17. May 31, 2009 #16
    Good lord man that was during the Lyndon Johnson White House. Slate is going way back to try to discredit Moyers. The article is full of other peoples opinions about what may or may not have happened in 1964. Times have changed.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  18. May 31, 2009 #17
    If they are POWs then they have obviously been treated in an illegal fashion.
  19. May 31, 2009 #18
    Illegal according to what? The Geneva Convention is an agreement between parties at war and only prohibits severe torture of POW's of a party to the Geneva convention, or an enemy that observes the convention, and clearly states such.

    Can you provide the specific law that was violated?
  20. May 31, 2009 #19
    If they are not covered by the articles of the Geneva Convention then they are not POWs. Also if they are not members of a state with which the US government is at war then they are mere criminals (which the Bush Admin's legal manuevering asserts). So if we agree that all criminal detainees regardless of origin deserve the same natural rights that we believe all persons should enjoy I don't see where our disagreement lies.

    Of course the Supreme Court has already determined that detainees at Guantanamo should receive such rights (at least habeas corpus anyway) so I guess we're in good company yes?
  21. Jun 1, 2009 #20


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    Could you provide some substantiation for the second statement?

    The reality is that yes, they were not considered POWs (the first statement), which is why Bush called them "enemy combatants", a classification functionally similar to but not really the same (for legal jurisdictional reasons) as the Geneva Convention "POW" definition. But how do you justify the second statement? It most certainly does not follow from the first (the way you word it, it sounds like you think you've found a catch-22 or a 'gotcha'. You haven't.) The US legal system (typically) has no jurisdiction over actions taken in another country. This is a jurisdictional gap, similar to the problem we're facing with the pirates. The Bush admin specifically tried to avoid labeling them as "mere criminals".

    As with the issue of the pirates, the evolution of the POW/foreign criminal has passed beyond what is reasonable and has rendered such international attempts to deal with these issues completely impotent. Perhaps Bush miscalculated when he didn't give them POW status, but IMO, even that has gone too far. It is my understanding that Bush set up the tribunals to determine the status of the detainees wrt that supreme court ruling on the writ of habeas corpus. The reality is that a healthy fraction of former Gitmo detainees are back in action against the US.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  22. Jun 1, 2009 #21
    The Bush Admin tried to call them unlawful combatants. Unlawful combatants are covered by the Geneva Convention though. So what is there left to call them? What are they that they are not covered by the Geneva Conventions other than mere criminals?

    "Enemy Combatant" refers to any opposing combatant regardless of eligibility for POW status. That term and "Ulawful Combatant" have both been used by the US with definitions differing from the standard. I'll expand my previous undetailed explanation. I have been doing a bit of reading around trying to figure out the mess. It seems to me it comes down to this...
    In article 2 the GC III states
    Which Al68 refers to in his last post implying that the Taliban is not a party to the convention. Afghanistan though is a party to the convention. The Bush Admin attempted to side step this by declaring Afghanistan a "failed" nation. This is covered in article 4 which defines what makes a prisoner eligible for POW status though...
    Now you may certainly argue that the Taliban do not fit these criteria. But then we get to the next section which deals with "unlawful combatants".
    Article 5
    One could argue that this article means that the GC covers all persons detained during a war until such time as they are determined not to be "by a competent tribunal". It is generally a basic rule of law that all persons will be protected by the law until such time as they have been shown not to be under its protection in a court of law. More basically "Innocent until proven guilty". Even if we don't take such a wide view Afghanistan is a party to the convention and article 4 spefically mentions protection both for resistence movements and forces of governments or authorities not recognized by the detaining power. Article 5 seals the deal with regard to questionable application of the terms in article 4.

    So... if they are not covered by the Geneva Convention then what are they?
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  23. Jun 1, 2009 #22
    so how is it not wrong then? because john yoo had a piece of paper saying it was ok?
  24. Jun 1, 2009 #23


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    Seals the deal? Without getting over my head into the 'failed state' legal argument that seems to be the core of legal memos, I can state that Art. 4 has specfic conditions, as in "fulfill the following conditions". Most of the Taliban, and particulary AQ, had absolutely no regard for those conditions. Really, when you see:

    (b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

    (c) That of carrying arms openly;

    (d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

    and then observe the suicide bombers and decapitations ordered up by this crowd, why don't you come to a full stop right here on Art 4? For comparison by the way, see the consideration of regular Iraqi soldiers captured in Iraqi Freedom - they were recognized without debate as being covered by the GC.
  25. Jun 1, 2009 #24
    I never said it wasn't wrong. Did you read my post?

    Did you accidentally reply to the wrong post?
  26. Jun 1, 2009 #25
    Apparently part of the disagreement is semantics. I was using "POW" generically, not as a Geneva category. Geneva does not prohibit torture of POW's in general, just in certain cases. Specifically POW's of an enemy that adheres to Geneva by a party that adheres to Geneva. Geneva is a voluntary agreement between parties at war, despite common misconceptions.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2009
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