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April 16, 2009

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I have a fear of public speaking. So, if you knew it and then required me to speak publicly, you'd be torturing me?

How is this different from what children do to each other every day? "Oh, Susie, there is a bug in your hair!"

DNFTT

I was going to comment:

"Yeah, and besides, Winston ended up happy didn't he? Sitting in the sun loving Big Brother from memory. Win/win solution I would have thought."

Then I re-read d'd'd'dave's comment and I realised it's impossible to do irony or sarcasm these days. Wingnut loonies are beyond parody because there are literally no limits to the things they are prepared to say in all seriousness. Is d'd'd'dave fair dinkum or taking the mickey? Who can tell any more?

"I have a fear of public speaking. So, if you knew it and then required me to speak publicly, you'd be torturing me?"

No.

We know what's torture from what we called torture when the Gestapo used these techniques, from the the KGB used these techniques, and from the techniques used by North Korea and China against which our personnel were trained to resist in SERE.

The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured.

[...] "We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.

Crawford, a retired judge who served as general counsel for the Army during the Reagan administration and as Pentagon inspector general when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, is the first senior Bush administration official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantanamo to publicly state that a detainee was tortured.

We convicted Japanese officers for use of these techniques, which we called "torture."

HTH.

Dear Moderator:

I have been subjected to two ad hominem attacks. First, cleek called me a "T". Second Ken Lovell suggeste4d that I was 'fair dinkum or taking the mickey'. Both of these are violations of the posting rules. Do something. Exclude them.

Rule 4 to be specific.

"Do not consistently abuse or vilify other posters for its own sake."

In 1947, the U.S. Called It a War Crime and prosecuted those who engaged in it.

[...] in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.

"Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told his colleagues last Thursday during the debate on military commissions legislation. "We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when waterboarding was used against Americans in World War II," he said.

It doesn't magically become not-torture when U.S. citizens do it.

Neither does suggesting that you are taking the mickey constitute abuse.

What's your point, hilzoy? Does US law explicitly rule out behavior that appears in classic depictions of totalitarian tyranny?

[/snark]

So, if you knew it and then required me to speak publicly, you'd be torturing me?

If they did so after slamming you into a wall repeatedly, depriving you of sleep for days at a time, waterboarding you so that you (possibly accurately) believed you were about to drown, made you stand for hours in painful positions, and made you speak in public while confined in a coffin, then hell yes, it would be torture.

Next question, please.

Please do not engage in ad hominem attacks on ddddd.

Thanks.

The Management.

Some people read 1984 and think of it as a warning.

For others, it is a training manual.

d'd'd'dave,

Do you know what 'fair dinkum' means? It's not an insult. (Serious question, cos I think it's an Australian idiom you might not have met).

To your question, we don't have to go as far as russell - Am I aware of your phobia? Is it severe enough that I can exploit it to make you betray your people or beliefs? Is that likely to be more effective than smacking you around the head? Or do I have reason to think it will?

Of course that's torture. I'll be surprised if (or when) you disagree.

I rather like Grumpy's comment at the cross-post:

"There's no comparison. Rats are not insects!!!"

It's the exclamation points that really kick it up a notch, I think.


I have a fear of public speaking. So, if you knew it and then required me to speak publicly, you'd be torturing me?

WTF???? Seriously, have you no shame at all?

d'd'd'dave: Boo Hoo, they are torturing me. And what does Management say?

Unbelievable.

"WTF???? Seriously, have you no shame at all?"

Seriously, we're talking about torture, right. In reference to the 'insect' procedure that Hilzoy excerpted above: i'm trying to decifer what the torture aspect is. And Shane at 10:09 seems responsive to it: subjecting you to your fear is apparently what is the 'torture' element.

Bybee, in his preamble, appears to make it cleat that no actual physical harm can be done to you. The nature of the insect thing is psychological.

Have I no shame to suggest that such things happen in every day life; and have happened to all of us at some point? Why would it be shameful to point out such a thing? I think it is shameful that you do not acknowledge such a thing.

I wonder if you want to draw a moral equivalence between scaring Zubaydah with an insect and conspiring to murder lots of folks. If you do, then there are alot of 9 year old boys that you need to arrest.

Have I no shame? WTF????

"Bybee, in his preamble, appears to make it cleat that no actual physical harm can be done to you."

This is false.

Please do not engage in ad hominem attacks on ddddd.

Thanks.

The Management.

If I suggest that d'd'd'dave must be spherical (because he doesn't seem to have a point), would that be an ad hominem attack?

--TP

> How is this different from what children do to each other every day? "Oh, Susie, there is a bug in your hair!"

d'd'd'dave, check the context. The subject in question is in a "cramped confinement box". I sure hope 9 year old boys aren't doing that every day.

"Have I no shame?"

Good to see you starting to reflect on things, as painful and distressing as it must be . . .

I suggest you guys choose another torture technique to defend the horrors of. You seem silly trying to portray this one as beyond the pale.

Just sayin'

If you're letting your children trap other children in a box in which they can barely move for an hour at a time, and allowing them to add insects without identifying the insects, OR if you're letting them confine people in a slightly larger box for a substantially longer period of time, then you are doing a very bad job raising your children. Unless, of course, you want to raise torturers.

A huge part of the difference from normal life is the physical coercion. If someone marched you onto a stage at gun point and made you do public speaking while holding a gun to your head, it might be torture, yes.

FWIW: According to pg. 9 of this memo, the insect technique was never used.

Oops. Link.

spartikus: true. But neither were the rats.

The link appeared in the Preview, so I don't know what's going on, but here is the url: http://luxmedia.vo.llnwd.net/o10/clients/aclu/olc_05102005_bradbury46pg.pdf

Definitely not intended as an attempt to dismiss it.

But I do think discussion of this particular technique has the potential to distract, like the earlier stories of detainees being sexually propositioned by female interrogators, from the other brutal techniques.

spartikus: absolutely. I threw this up because it was, um, the obvious comparison. But it is by far not the most awful part, as far as I'm concerned.

I think spartikus has a point, though it does show what sick f**ks these bastards were.

Yeah, good point sparticus. I'm glad you made it. I never would have thought of suggesting that you guys choose another torture technique to defend.

Dave is presumably also fine with mock executions, since people aren't physically harmed by them. Also fine, I guess: extended sensory deprivation, even if it drives the prisoner insane.

Oh, I don't know. Maybe the sleep deprivation? Or the waterboarding? Gosh, I can see how the caterpillar would have been a complete distraction from those.

KCinDC

"Dave is presumably also fine with mock executions, since people aren't physically harmed by them. Also fine, I guess: extended sensory deprivation, even if it drives the prisoner insane."

All I talked about was the insect thing.

You're putting words in my mouth in an attempt to discredit me instead of admitting that the insect thing is not such a big deal. Where is your evidence of what is in my mind.

This seems like a personal attack.

Easy heuristic for the moral defectives among us to identify torture:

If we would object to the treatment in question being applied to our servicemen or nationals held in enemy captivity.

HTH.

If we would object to the treatment in question being applied to our servicemen or nationals held in enemy captivity.

While we would object, it is much better treatment than our soldiers have received in enemy captivity. The conduct described in the memos would, in fact, be a relief compared to beheading or being dragged through the street.

I think the more interesting question is why did someone think they needed a legal opinion on torture for a lot of this stuff? I plan to grab someone by the face-is that torture? I plan to slap someone, is that torture? I plan to smack someone against the wall, or give them nutritionally adequate but bland food, is that torture?

Those things may be illegal, but I don't think they fit into an idea of torture.

Sleep deprivation beyond 96 hours and waterboarding seem like torture to me, so I can see why you would ask for some sort of legal protection regarding torture for those actions. But the other stuff not being torture does not answer the pertinent question of whether it is legal even if it is not torture.

You know who admired Room 101 so much that he had his office numbered 101?

This guy:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/anna-funder-inside-the-real-room-101-732525.html

This is just what I thought would happen. What's in the memos is bad enough to outrage Bush opponents, but not so bad that Bush supporters see any of it as a big deal.

I think the more interesting question is why did someone think they needed a legal opinion on torture for a lot of this stuff?

Could it be they had a sneaking suspicion that what they wanted to do was torture, and they wanted legal cover for their actions?

The really interesting question to me is: did "we" get any actual "intelligence" out of the victims of all this "enhanced interrogation"? I know the sadists who approved it and the barbarians who implemented it say we did. But I don't believe them. Torturers (of the law, or of prisoners) are not especially trustworthy.

--TP

According to TPM (I haven't read the memos yet myself), Bybee approved sleep deprivation as acceptable because it would not be continued for more than 11 days at a time.

To give some context here, anything more than two days of sleep deprivation induces hallucinations and falling asleep on one's feet. Sleep deprivation was a favorite of Stalin. According to memoirs by survivors, few people could withstand more than two or three days of it. A week was impressive. Eleven days would be virtually unheard of. I would suggest that anyone who thinks 11 days without sleep is no big deal should try it and get back to us.

To give some context here, anything more than two days of sleep deprivation induces hallucinations and falling asleep on one's feet.

That is the bonus of writing legal memos: it assumes facts like how long someone can go with out sleep, and offers legal opinions based on those assumptions. Throughout the memos, Bybee et al limit everything they say to the accuracy of CIA provided facts. And that particular fact is one of them.

This is just what I thought would happen. What's in the memos is bad enough to outrage Bush opponents, but not so bad that Bush supporters see any of it as a big deal.

Not all of the Bush Administration are as incompetent as the FEMA folks.

I was thinking primarily about d'd'd'dave and other posters here. But I am sure it will be a widespread phenomenon.

I suspect when the memo says Zubaydah has a fear of insects, what they mean is he has a phobia about insects, i.e an irrational and excessive fear of them. And if you're exploiting phobias, that is appalling. For example, I have a phobia about crabs and lobsters. Suppose I was forced to be the person in a fish restaurant who had to get the live lobster out of a tank and cook it, or had to work as a crab fisher? I am shaking as I write this, just at my own imagination of such a task, let alone a possible threat. Yet some people do that kind of thing as their job.

So d'd'd'dave: if you fear public speaking and you're expected to do that, that's one thing. If you are a person who fears it so much that you get panic attacks and think you're going to pass out at the podium or can't sleep for weeks before you have to do it, if you would change jobs or drop out of courses rather than be expected to make a public speech, and someone forces you to do it, I think that's getting pretty near torture, even without imprisonment etc.

All I talked about was the insect thing.

Yeah, which is what turns you from a guy with a point to Tony's spherical man. It's what bleaches any moral weight out of your argument and turns it into an exercise in childish pissiness.

In short, it's what makes cleek's response apt.

People who defend the practice of slamming other people into walls because they wrap a towel around their victim's neck to prevent whiplash are moral bankrupts.

Likewise people who trap other people who are phobic about insects in small boxes and then toss insects in, and call it OK because it's not actually a stinging insect, they just let their victim believe that it is.

I don't give a flying you know what if you want to call it "torture" or not. I note that the word "torture" appears not once in hilzoy's post.

What it is, is f**king evil.

Thanks for playing.

You're putting words in my mouth in an attempt to discredit me instead of admitting that the insect thing is not such a big deal. Where is your evidence of what is in my mind.

Try to remember your little hissy fit here the next time you feel the urge to quote publius at length with several of your insulting parentheticals inserted into his text as if they were his own words, please.

When you are in the hands of your enemies, and you know that they do not love you, and you do not know what they will do, and they are systematically leading you to expect that they may indeed do any horrible thing to you, and you are not in control of anything that happens to you, then it is not just an insect even without the phobia that is the reason that they were considering it. It is not just "there's a bug in your hair."

I read them last night. Such careful walking through words. I do not remember that the word "unbearable" was used in any of them. Was the word "fear"? Use the wrong words, and the so-serious objective consideration of suffering questions might start to look like an exercise in walking only on the sidewalk cracks all the way across town. Which is what it was.

What cleek said.

Anything else I might contribute to this discussion would probably get me immediately and permanently banned.

I was thinking primarily about d'd'd'dave and other posters here. But I am sure it will be a widespread phenomenon.

Yes. And if prosecutions go forward now, you're likely to get, at best, hung juries; at worst, acquitals. THAT is going to legitimize torture even more so.

Do we really want that?

Thank you, hilzoy, for this post. The face-shaped-cage of rats in room 101 was the very first thing that came to mind when I read the Zubaydah details this morning. The Ralph Steadman portrait of George Orwell (from the illustrated Animal Farm) keeps coming to the forefront of my brain now: the one where Orwell's throat is encaged, and he is being savaged by rats. Rats.

It is well known that Eric Blair had a terrible phobia of rats (he seemed to think the rats in the trenches was the worst part of his experience in Catalonia, never mind getting shot in the throat by a sniper). Rats actually were the worst thing in the world for him, personally. That scene in the place where there is no darkness really was the worst thing he could think of to do to his protagonist: what it would take to utterly destroy his humanity, admit that 2+2=5, and make him gladly betray his love, his soul. And love his torturers, instead.

And, yeah. They never actually used the rats on him. They didn't need to.

How can anyone who has read Orwell not understand this? How can they not see that the intention of the Bush administration's torture program was to utterly destroy the humanity of certain detainees? "The purpose of torture is torture" is not an empty phrase: it cuts to the heart of it.

I'm really curious, stutterin' dave: Do you think that the comparison to the scene in Orwell is *not* obvious or appropriate? Or do you think the Orwell scene is showing something that is not that bad?

I mean, is it a case of "not like 1984", or is it "1984 is not that bad"? With the sarcasm off, please, because my detector seems to be broken.

Under the spreading chestnut tree, I spoke in public, and you spoke in public. There spoke I, and there spoke we... Under the spreading chestnut tree.

Btw, the classical BBC adaption of 1984 with Peter Cushing as Winston Smith and Andre Morell as OBrien is available on youtube.

Slightly OT: I was also immediately reminded of 1984 today when I heard the "tea-parties" desrcibed as "near-spontaneous". Obama increased taxes like Big Brother increased the chocolate ration (i.e. the spontaneous claims are as false).

what Digby said:

"Anyone who can defend those memos is so fncked up I pity their friends and families."

jrudkis:
While we would object, it is much better treatment than our soldiers have received in enemy captivity. The conduct described in the memos would, in fact, be a relief compared to beheading or being dragged through the street.

Naba, naba. This is meaningless. We'd not merely object, we'd howl to the skies about the evil of those others. "Would we want 'them' to do it to 'us'" is exactly the question we need to ask. It shouldn't be, we should only need ask if we should be doing such things, but for a great many nationalism and dehumanizing "our" "enemies" means fear of reciprocation is more important than basic decency in these matters.

This is just what I thought would happen. What's in the memos is bad enough to outrage Bush opponents, but not so bad that Bush supporters see any of it as a big deal.

What has been amazing over the last few years is the extent to which so many Bush supporters actually think torture is OK. To be more precise, what they believe in is Torture-Lite (1/3 less pain!) -- torture that allows the perpetrator to still feel morally smug about it all.

My favorite rhetorical device in arguing with such people is to ask them why they do not support torture to find drug dealers selling crack to school kids (and if they say great!, then just pick the next category of crime, and ask them to articulate why we would limit torture to only certain types of crimes if it such a good way of dealing with it).

If they try to limit torture to terrorists, I ask them why they are soft on drug dealers hurting our children.

Or I also ask them if we should first hold little mini-trials to find out who we should torture to make sure we don't torture innocents.

It is amazing how these people are just clueless to the evil they embrace.

"The purpose of torture is torture" is not an empty phrase: it cuts to the heart of it. -SGEW

No more calls... we have a winner!

dmbeaster, even better, ask them, whether the school children (even those not suspected of having used drugs) should be tortured to get information about the drug dealers (the 'mosaic theory' championed by those that think that it does not matter, whether the detainees are actually innocent because they could yield tiny bits of info that would form a large picture when combined).

"Daddy, What's a Republican?" says the comparison isn't obvious or even well-founded.

http://daddywhatsarepublican.blogspot.com/2009/04/1984-and-torture.html

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