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US congress approves interrogation techniques

  1. Sep 29, 2006 #1

    mathwonk

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    does this bother anyone? I myself am profoundly troubled and embarrassed.

    According to the account I read in the Atlanta Journal, the law says George Bush gets to decide what are appropriate interrogation techniques, there is no public list of the ones he approves, there is no appeal after mistreatment, such as for the Canadian citizen we kidnapped to Syria where he was tortured, and no appeal of wrongful imprisonment.

    Apparently this turns back the clock on human and accused rights several hundred years. To me president Bush goes from bad to worse every time i read the news. He already seemed like the worst president in my memory and that goes back to Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush1, Clinton, Bush2, and now he seems much much worse than before.

    I was listening to Crosby Stills and Nash today, "Speak out against the madness". Are we back to those days? Good Lord...

    How much harm can one person do?:eek:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2006 #2
    are people who speak out against him still instantly branded as anti-american or pro-terrorist? eg. "why would you want to protect terrorists?"
     
  4. Sep 29, 2006 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    The jokes about Bush being a King used to be funny...sort of.

    This is all just unbelievable; and more so the general lack of outrage. I don't know if things will turn around for at least another generation. The number of people who condone the use of torture [and the rest of this nonsense] is shocking.
     
  5. Sep 30, 2006 #4
    What can I say, IMHO, what we have here is a group of people who claim the moral highground while covering their backs for torture, condoning secret prisons and Guantanamo bay, destroying whole countries like Afghanistan and Iran and having a double standard when it has anything to do with Israel.
    It is simply disgusting!
     
  6. Sep 30, 2006 #5
    Hey! :grumpy:
     
  7. Oct 14, 2006 #6
    A horrific example of what is happening now that confessions under torture are accepted as evidence:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/15/u...&en=cbfd1c11c472873f&ei=5094&partner=homepage
     
  8. Oct 16, 2006 #7
    Out of curiosity, are you opposed to torture on principal - or are you opposed to the fact that our government is retarded and detains / tortures innocent people?
     
  9. Oct 16, 2006 #8
    Is that an actual question?
     
  10. Oct 16, 2006 #9
    Yes, it is.

    Actually, let me digress a moment. I've observed an attitude that has bothered me for some time.
    Why does everyone here seem to think that shooting a person in the gut and letting them bleed out on the battlefield over the course of hours or days is any better than putting them on the rack?
    Please tell me how it is any better to mortar a group of enemy soldiers and blow off their limbs than it is to put them in a cell and hack off their leg with a chainsaw?

    Either way, they're in a world of hurt. Certainly, the difference cannot be the capacity for retaliation, as we drop bombs on our enemies all day long and nobody complains about the soldiers getting blown to pieces.

    On a related note, how is it NOT torture to enforce economic sanctions against an already destitute nation where scores of the population die every year from starvation (NK, of course)? Does anyone here really think that Kim Jong il is going to go hungry? Who do you think will pay the price?
     
  11. Oct 17, 2006 #10

    siddharth

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    That's the first wrong assumption. Not shooting a person in the gut and not torturing is better, IMO.
    What if you don't do either?

    Nobody complains about soldiers getting blown to pieces??
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2006
  12. Oct 17, 2006 #11
    Certainly, it is better to not do either.

    However, reality is ... well.... reality and in reality war is a necessity, in some situations (our present situation in Iraq excluded).

    My point is that there seems to be a contradiction. Certainly people complain about soldiers getting blown up, but they don't call it torture. I see zero difference between torturing a person on the "battlefield" and in a torture chamber. Either way, you are inflicting unimaginable suffering - yet one course of action is accepted while the other is condemned. They are equivalent, in my mind at least - which is why I'm asking.

    Evidently, people here hold a different opinion, and I'd like to find their reasoning - ie how the reconcile this apparent (to me) contradiction.

    And for the record, I'm all for closing our secret prisons (and the not so secret Gitmo) as it is almost certainly a fact that the majority of detainees are innocent.
     
  13. Oct 17, 2006 #12
    My guess is that some people accept the mutilation of soldiers as a necessary evil because the soldiers are armed at the time we shoot/bomb them. After they are prisoners, they are no longer armed and pose no immediate danger, so people are not accepting of the same kind of mutilation then.
    Then there are others such as I who think there is no difference between the two. Dead is dead and mutilated is mutilated.
     
  14. Oct 17, 2006 #13
    The man who is on the battle field has a weapon in his hand and is there usually because he choses to be there, he has a chance to kill the enemy and if he fails he risks death but it is his choice. Therein lie the differences, no one choses to be tortured nor can they defend themselves in any way, nor can they flee. They are at the absolute whim of others. I think that makes a large difference in the deal.

    Another thing is the man who blows someone to smithereens is not trying to inflict suffering, you're not sitting on the battlefield thinking now how can I cause the most suffering, degradation, humiliation and pain, therefore although you are trying to do the opposition harm or kill them there is not the same level of malice in your actions, intent is always key in morality.

    Granted they are both bad but I'd say torture is one of the least tolerable actions in warfare, in war both sides have to defeat the enemy, what makes for a moral highground if there ever is one, is how you act when dealing with the enemy after the smoke has cleared; at least in non hard-line Republican world, where people are considered more civilised :wink::smile: People are going to get blown apart, bits will fly off them, they may even get killed, let's hope they don't have to go through torture as well. From what I've heard war is bad enough without further dehumanising your enemy.
     
  15. Oct 17, 2006 #14

    Astronuc

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    Some (many?) may be innocent.

    On the other hand, the US apparently let one of the major terrorists go . . .

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/taliban/militants/mehsud.html


    I don't approve of torture, but certainly interrogation is not a pleasant experience. What is cruel to someone, may be not so to another. The greatest problem I have is that 'innocent' people are picked up and tortured. In order to prevent this in the US, we have 'due process', and limits on interrogation techniques.

    I fully appreciate that secrecy may be necessary, but total secrecy from even those whose job it is to provide oversight, i.e. from the courts and members of Congress, is just too dangerous. While secrecy must be used to protect national security, it can also be used to conceal illegal activities, and that is the major problem with secrecy of the Bush administration. Some of what Bush has done has been determined to be in violation of US law! So one is left to wonder what other illegal activities are going on under the concealment of secrecy.
     
  16. Oct 17, 2006 #15
    any time a combatant surrenders, its unlikely they are no longer able to fight, but instead they consider their life more important then the amount of harm they may yet do to the enemy. what i mean by that is people don't always surrender because they are out of bullets, but because they don't want to die (as in fighting won't further their cause, but only get themselves killed) so when you add torture into the equation, there is No reason to surrender at all. by torturing people, the fight is made harder, not essayer. combine this with the likelihood of information got from tortured people being of poor quality and the net effect of torture doesn't work in Anyone's favor.

    (edit) i forgot about this
    innocent people being captured and tortured is one reason why the usa is having such a hard time making any progress in pacifying iraq. even the moderates in iraq are largely turned against the usa's occupation because there is so much the us army does that is objectionable. if the us army is going to win this war, they really need to change how they are fighting it and not give people so many reasons to want to become suicide bombers.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2006
  17. Oct 18, 2006 #16
    With all the talk about torture, I have not seen a detail of the techniques in this bill. I've looked through the various news sources, commentators, etc., but all I see is rhetoric about torture and the war on terror. What types of interregation techniques are allowed? I doubt that it would be the classical form of torture: hot brands, taking fingernails off, pliers, etc. Without further details it is impossible to make an informed decision on whether this bill should have been passed.

    Regardless of that, I am not totally opposed to the use of torture. I truly believe there are times when it is neccessary to extract information out of a terrorists, and any means should be used. They put themselves in that situation by choosing to be a terrorist, and it was their choice to go to war with us.
    I believe they do have a choice in the matter, but it coems long before they ever were capture.

    In our case torture is not used to humiliate, degridate, etc., the enemy. It is used to get information, and if that information can only be obtained by humiliation, degridation, etc., so be it. The prisoner could have chosen to tell everything and thereby eliminate the need for harsh interregation, but often times they choose to be silent. The USA does not torture for sadistic reasons.

    War is bad and terrible, and I for one would like nothing better then if the US was not involved in any wars. However, other people chose to try to kill us. They want to come here and cut the throats of everyone who doesn't follow their religious totalitarianism. That was their choice, and because of that I have little or no sympathy for them. I don't care if their friends blew themselves up, I don't care what happens to them in a battle, because they made it this way. Moral highgrounds be damned, I want to win as fast as possible in order to end the war with the least casualties on our side. Perhaps those opposed to torture are better people than me, perhaps my morallity is more flexible, but I'm willing to do anything to win. Does this mean I'm a bad person: maybe, but frankly, if it means my survival and prosperity over the terrosists, I don't care.
     
  18. Oct 18, 2006 #17

    siddharth

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    But what about "prisoners" like Maher Arar? :uhh:

    I find your assumption that any detained person is automatically guilty, very flawed.
     
  19. Oct 18, 2006 #18
    i think the bill on topic here is something to the effect of 'bush decides what is and is not acceptable interrogation (not excluding torture, or anything for that matter, so there is really No Limit here). bush does not have to check with anyone, or let anyone know what is or is not permissible'. considering this is from an administration that has literally tryed to redefine torture, i think they are wouldn't hold back from getting a lot of use of this.

    i disagree that there is a significant difference between torturing with humiliation/degradation/etc and using those tools of torture for the sake of getting information. the other side systematically uses torture in the form of mutilation not because they are sadistic but because they want to send a message of deterrence. the side being tortured doesn't distinguish being the means and the ends. also, i think the people who are actually committing these acts would have to have a curtain sadistic stamina to be able to do these things (including american interrogators)

    i think this is a vary important point because it comes up in just about every significant conflict in history. the key phrase here is "our side". what is "our side", if not a moral code? is it nationality? what is the usa besides the moral code of the constitution? is "our side" a geographical area defined by imaginary lines? a language? a skin color? a religion? i strongly believe "our side" is a group of people who live by a moral code that serves us as a culture/nation/community better then a moral code that allows people to own their wives or a government to dictate to the governed without accountability or allows people to be tortured
     
  20. Oct 19, 2006 #19
    In a case such as Maher Arar, they suspected him of having terrorist connections. In such a case like that, I would most certainly not condone any actions of torture or harsh interregation.

    The times when torture would be justifiable, in my opinion, would be times when people are captured from a battefield, when you have no doubt of their guilt, or if you have undeniable proof that they are part of a terrorist group. In the case you mentioned, neither was true, and so I would not be in favor of what was done to him. The problem here is, I think, a case when known terrorist are mixed in with suspected terrorists. I think a better system would be to have seperate prisons, and only those people who had been found guilty by a fair trial, or who had been captured without any ambiguity of their guilt, would be subjected to this manner of harsh interregation. There are problems with our current system, and I am more than willing to admit them.

    I couldn't care less what the side being tortued distinguishes, since they placed themselves in that position by joining a terrorist organization and trying to kill innocent people. Certainly, the interrigators would have to have a callousness in their character, otherwise they would not be capable of their actions. However, there is a vast difference between being willing to do your job, and actually taking pleasure in it. However, if there are people torturing prinsoners just because they enjoy it, I would be the first demanding the severest penalty for them.

    This is indeed an important point. In this conflict, I believe our side is a culturue, specifaclly western culture, and the enemy is a religious extremist who want to take us back to the days of absolute church rule. Also, I do not see a contradiction between our culture and the ideas of survival at any cost. After all, it is Western culture that produced people like Machiavelli: and the morals are so wide and ambiguous that it is nearly impossible to say that one action contradicts the generals morals of the culture.

    In the end, I do find many problems with our system the way it is. There shouldn't be just one person who has the power to do anything he wants. I think the bill would have been much better served if it had in its writings the actual definition of torture that it condoned. However, on the general subject of torture, I do not see any problem with it so long as it is not abused. The only stipulation I would have is that there be oversight over the people being subjected to various levels of interrigation. Beyond that, I am willing to do anything in order to save the lives of innocent Americans. After all, sometime you have to do something you hate, in order to live another day.
     
  21. Oct 19, 2006 #20
    i totally disagree that torture is acceptable in any situation because i think its ineffective and unnecessary but since im not being the one tortured here and no one here is doing the torturing, i think we can agree to disagree on those points for now. instead, lets talk about the conditions this bill should or likely will be used under...

    my understanding of what your saying is that its OK to do anything required to preserve one's culture and this would include torturing people who kill innocent americans as long as they are either captured from the battlefield or are captured on the basis of undeniable proof.

    if these people are being captured from a battlefield, what innocent americans are they killing? my understanding of the people being captured from battle fields in iraq is that they are trying to kill iraqi soldiers/police, or american soldiers/private contractors and personally i wouldn't consider those people exactly innocent (although this may be a point for another thread). as for people being captured on undeniable proof, its vary debatable what constitutes undeniable proof. many people are detained/interrogated in dragnet operations or because they have been pointed out by other detainees. the evidence of someone's guilt comes from their own interrogations.

    keep in mind that there are a lot of people being tortured in iraq right now who don't have the information the interrogators are looking for (or any other information that could save soldiers' lives, much less anyone's life outside iraq). and this bill permits much much harsher treatment for these people. i mean after all, the vast majority of people are interrogated to find out what information they have, not because its known they have some piece of information thats needed
     
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