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May 04, 2009

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If you agree with their reasoning that the president can torture in the name of national security you still haven't dealt with the fact that every single torture expert told them it didn't work and could be counterproductive. And yet, they did it anyway...

So basically, their argument's that it wasn't illegal for them to torture; merely that they were incompetent. Not exactly a glowing picture of themselves they're painting, but at least incompetence is legal... lesser of two evils?

Well, this is probably the key question:

But what kind of person would fight for the right to use these methods of torture after we had stopped using them?

Who would recommend himself for the VP position, having been asked to vet prospective candidates (and knowing that whoever ends up as VP will be the party's putative standard-bearer four or eight years hence?)...

Who would drink a few brewskis, despite the quadruple bypass, and medications presumably required therefrom, and then go chuckar-huntin' and blast an old friend in the face? And then get him to apologize to you for gettin' in the way?

Who would reveal the secret identity of a CIA agent merely to tangentially support a mendacious policy which has already failed in the public square?

Dick Cheney is not 100% sane.

But what kind of person would fight for the right to use these methods of torture after we had stopped using them?

Someone who didn't want even the slightest chance that he or his subordinates would be prosecuted.

(I'd be more impressed with Obama banning torture "within 48 hours" if that had included actually sending out people to Guantanamo Bay and Bagram Airbase to stop prisoners being tortured, rather than just letting it go on until a released prisoner's testimony and medical evidence made clear that prisoners were still being tortured at least until February 2009. Hopefully, Obama took action then.)

"With Cheney, all I ever see is darkness, combativeness for its own sake, obsessive secrecy, a cramped and constricted heart, and a tiny shriveled thing that must once have been a soul."

This may be the best sentence about Dick Cheney, anywhere and ever.

Here's what I've gathered by trolling conservative blogs:

Who cares? These people are evil terrorists, and yet you're fighting for their rights? What you're doing isn't even that harsh? I mean, there's no permanent wounds there? Hell, our guys do the same thing for training!

The concept that everyone has an inalienable set of rights, that it's all based on extensive (equally damaging) psychological damage, or that the culmination of these techniques causes the damage does not get acknowledged. And if you can't acknowledge that, then where's the harm in it?

Anyone who takes the time to indulge this site could not by now have missed knowing Hilzoy's (and others') views regarding Dick Cheney and the torture issue.

To me, it seems to be more of a personal verbal vendetta against the former VP than anything else. If something else, please enlighten me.

One question I have is how does one arrive at the conclusion that Cheney is responsible for directing these activities that are under scutiny for their legality when the only function of his office is to vote to break senatorial ties? Who took their marching orders from him and how do we know this?

whenever I see Cheney that phrase "the banality of evil" pops into my head.

GoodOleBoy,

You can't fathom that people are genuinely, strenuously opposed to the torture of human beings?

You're not - ok, fine - but you can't even imagine that this particular war crime, one we hung Nazis over, one we've imprisoned our own troops for, one we signed international treaties against, one we used to denounce the Soviets and Chinese for using, could actually motivate people to passionate opposition?

Nah, that can't be it. Nobody could REALLY be strongly opposed to torture. It must some kind of gag, in order to persecute Republicans.

Give me a break.

Good Ole Boy: To me, it seems to be more of a personal verbal vendetta against the former VP than anything else. If something else, please enlighten me.

Some people just think torture is wrong, GOB. You may not understand this, but...

One question I have is how does one arrive at the conclusion that Cheney is responsible for directing these activities that are under scutiny for their legality when the only function of his office is to vote to break senatorial ties? Who took their marching orders from him and how do we know this?

If you're honestly interested in the answer to this question, read Jane Mayer's The Dark Side. We know these things thanks to good, old fashioned reporting, though many of them were pretty clear to anyone simply paying attention during the last eight years.

Incidentally, Dick Cheney had a rather more expansive understanding of the powers of the Vice Presidency than your perfectly fair description of the constitutional powers of that office. For the sake of argument, I'll assume you're writing out of good-faith ignorance.

BTW, your ad hominem speculations about "Hilzoy's (and others')" motivations are irrelevant to this discussion.

A number of people involved in the process stated that Chain-Eye was the pivot of the operation, that reports went to his office primarily and that directives came from him personally or his chief of staff. The main other person involved was Rumsfeld but he (although the details are disputed) was allegedly kicked out later for becoming disillusioned. I think it is fair to say that without those two and maybe even without just Chain-Eye there would not have been a systematic* torture program in the first place. In that sense the Vice was indeed Dubya's evil spirit. This does not mean that Richard B.C. did it all behind Bush's back but that his was the main initiative.

*sytematic in the sense of organized, with 'proper' paperwork, 'legal advise' etc. The application was, it seems, far more chaotic.

One question I have is how does one arrive at the conclusion that Cheney is responsible for directing these activities that are under scutiny for their legality when the only function of his office is to vote to break senatorial ties? Who took their marching orders from him and how do we know this?

The shadow presidency of Dick Cheney is well documented enough for anyone who is interested in finding out about it. And regardless of "marching orders," it's clear that Cheney had great influence. The question is why he chose to use that influence in the way that he did. I find it to be a fascinating question - one that I have put to several of my smarter friends in conversation, because I find it hard to fathom what makes Dick Cheney tick. I often wonder if he thinks he's a good person. Or does he think he's evil and is okay with it? Or does he not care one way or another (which is how I think most evil people are)?

I was recently discussing this with an old college friend, when his very smart wife came in the room. She thinks Cheney sees himself as a realist who better understands the harsh realities of life than everyone else, and he believes he has the fortitude to deal with those harsh realities in the necessary ways that most people don't have the capacity to understand or stomach. He's the hardboiled saviour of all us ninnies, in his opinion. I think she's on to something.

Re Cheney's involvement, Barton Gellman's recent bio, Angler, is quite explicit on the extensive involvement of Cheney and his counsel Addington in these matters. So, no, Cheney was not a ceremonial figure breaking ties in the Senate.

" But what kind of person would fight for the right to use these methods of torture after we had stopped using them? "

Someone who allowed Al Qaeda to attack in order to obtain an excuse to invade Iraq, but had expected a far smaller incident than 9/11?

The reference to "The Dark Side" above also would address my reply -- Cheney et. al. honestly appears to believe they are promoting a necessary and proper path of executive power. The actual details of carrying it out in any given situation is not the ultimate point. Cheney was fighting this war since the 1970s.

So, I don't think it is so strange to think that Cheney, on principle, would resist tying the executive's hands, including leaving open certain techniques that might not be used at the moment.

And, since they were used in the past, there is a clear CYA aspect to all of this.

Joe from Lowell,

I can fathom that 'some' people are genuinely, strenuously opposed to the torture of human beings. A recent Pew Research report indicates that the percentage of Americans who believe that torture should never occur is 25%. So the view is not on the fringe but neither is it dominant in the population.

If one considers that the other 75% believes that torture is at least rarely justified depending on the circumstances (this is usually described as a detainee known to likely have information that if extracted will result in saving lives) and that, in the view of probably a similar majority the specific interrogation techniques at issue are marginal and not considered torture, then it is difficult to see how the efforts of those at this site to move to prosecution can succeed.

"But what kind of person would fight for the right to use these methods of torture after we had stopped using them? "

Joe above beat me to the punch. Cheney got his start in the Nixon Administration and by all accounts is a firm believer in the Imperial Presidency. I think that he is practically incapable of arguing that there is anything that the President does not have the power to do. I’m not sure that he even had a “revelation” concerning Checks and Balances at 12:00 PM on January 20 with the rest of the Republican Party.

If one considers that the other 75% believes that torture is at least rarely justified depending on the circumstances . . . and that, in the view of probably a similar majority the specific interrogation techniques at issue are marginal and not considered torture, then it is difficult to see how the efforts of those at this site to move to prosecution can succeed.

I'm fairly certain that the state of the law is not dependent on what people believe it should or should not be. Most people exceed the speed limit on the interstate and probably believe it should be higher, but try telling that to the state trooper that pulls you over. I'll bet more than half of Americans believe that pot should be legal, but try telling that to the copy who finds a dime bag on you.

Good Ole Boy: not a verbal vendetta; just a combination of horror, puzzlement, and an enormous sense of relief that he is no longer doing damage to the country I love, or to the individuals his decisions used to affect.

As to the question 'why focus on Cheney?', I refer you to the article above, and to the passages I quoted. The driving force behind coming up with new memos at a time when we were not using the techniques in question was said to be "Mr. Cheney and top C.I.A. officials." Under the circumstances, introducing someone else would have required some explanation.

hairshirthedonist and David Hunt have provided the two pieces of this puzzle which fit together to answer the question which hilzoy asked:

hairshirthedonist:

'I was recently discussing this with an old college friend, when his very smart wife came in the room. She thinks Cheney sees himself as a realist who better understands the harsh realities of life than everyone else, and he believes he has the fortitude to deal with those harsh realities in the necessary ways that most people don't have the capacity to understand or stomach. He's the hardboiled saviour of all us ninnies, in his opinion. I think she's on to something.'

David Hunt:

'Joe above beat me to the punch. Cheney got his start in the Nixon Administration and by all accounts is a firm believer in the Imperial Presidency. I think that he is practically incapable of arguing that there is anything that the President does not have the power to do. I’m not sure that he even had a "revelation" concerning Checks and Balances at 12:00 PM on January 20 with the rest of the Republican Party.
'


Cheney's Vice Presidency was the continuation of the Nixon Administration by other means. He is Tricky Dick's revenge on us all. Why would Cheney continue to fight for the right to party torture? In order to allow his successors to carry on the fight against liberal squeamishness into the next generation, just as he himself carried Nixon's banner after the old master had passed from the scene. At some point in the future one of the minor bureaucrats in the Bush/Cheney administration will come into power and resurrect Cheney's worldview and policies (or at least so Cheney hopes). He is protecting that legacy.

Remember, always two there are - a master and an apprentice.

Barton Gellman's bio of Cheney (which I completely recommend for those who have questions about Cheney's influence in the Bush admin) suggests that his experience "holding the fort" on 9-11, when Bush was basically incommunicado, was a pivotal moment for Cheney, during which he flipped on all his mental and bureaucratic emergency responses and never managed to turn them off or moderate them. Clearly, a lot of the ideological framework for his subsequent actions must have already been in place, but according to Gellman at least, that day becomes the touchstone.

Jackmormon: That's very interesting. About that "flipping on all the switches and never managing to turn them off" thing, it strikes me: Dick Cheney is an old man.

Usually, in politics, we are used to the old men being sufficiently in charge of their faculties to avoid the clichéd old-man antics, but... I think Gellman's on to something. What I draw from it:

1. Cheney wasn't a very nice person to begin with.

2. He had an unsettling experience, 9/11. It would be bad enough in itself, but when you more or less secretly wished for a smaller terrorist attack in the first place, as the PNAC documents clearly show they did ... wishing for something bad, and then getting something far worse than you hoped for, yeah, I can believe that can mess a person up.

3. He's just too old to handle dramatic experiences like this in a sane manner.

One of the things that's weird about Cheney is that he isn't actually all that old, comparatively. He was born in 1941, which means he was 60 on 9/11. Yes, he's had all kinds of health problems, so we think of him as being on the brink of death, but he doesn't fit into the senile retiree category.

John Dean in Conservatives Without Conscience used Robert Altemeyer's The Authoritarians to classify Cheney as a "double-high authoritarian": someone who scores high on measures of Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA), and also high on measures of Social Domination. Such people are extremely dangerous. RWAs tend to have a stronger-than-normal fear response: an intrinsically frightening event like 9/11 will feel *even more* frightening to a RWA.

What has struck me recently, as more and more of Cheney's actions come to light, is how *incompetant* he is compared to Nixon. He may have been Nixon's apprentice, but he doesn't seem to have learned anything at all about how to actually achieve things, neither in terms of politics (getting people on your side) nor of administration (e.g. the Iraq war planning). But Nixon wasn't a true Double-High Authoritarian -- he never felt comfortable as the Number One Guy in Charge, Shut Up and Listen to Me, and that discomfort meant that he could do un-Cheneylike things like change his mind and go to China, or push through the Clean Air and Water Acts.

Cheney has, as far as I can tell, accomplished absolutely nothing but misery.

Sure there's a strong component of "motiveless malignancy" (and it's not just confined to Cheney within his ex-administration). But there is plenty of "motive", too.

Few people have noted how absolutely central the tightly-linked triangle of torture, intelligence and secrecy has been to the Cheney administration.

Torture was a vital political instrument for the ex-Admin. It was central to its propaganda, its self-justification, its mobilisation of action, its ruthless emasculation of dissent, its incitement of self-censorship among would-be critics. It was absolutely central to the envisaged revolution of the executive branch.

Torture produced intelligence. Intelligence and national security are associated with, and justify, classification and secrecy. Torture and intelligence produced essentially unfalsifiable public "facts" and "truths". This public unfalsifiability, inscrutability and irrefutability was crucial to the Admin's scorched-earth war against all opposition, and to its attempts to provide blanket justifications for just about any action whatsoever (no matter how taboo).

Here's a link to an incisive comment made by Michael Pollak on the subject:

And it's not just production of specific "truths". For the very production of those "truths" serves to shore up the technique that produced them in the first place. Torture, for instance, recursively justifies itself by creating evidence that confirms the very need for torture.

(I'd be more impressed with Obama banning torture "within 48 hours" if that had included actually sending out people to Guantanamo Bay and Bagram Airbase to stop prisoners being tortured, rather than just letting it go on until a released prisoner's testimony and medical evidence made clear that prisoners were still being tortured at least until February 2009. Hopefully, Obama took action then.)

Oh.

Wow.

That's almost impressively disingenuous. How can you still be trotting out this falsehood about "ongoing torture" about as a response to an article demonstrating that it's wrong?

The strongest sign of an ideologue, of course, is someone who finds confirmation in contrary facts.

"She thinks Cheney sees himself as a realist who better understands the harsh realities of life than everyone else, and he believes he has the fortitude to deal with those harsh realities in the necessary ways that most people don't have the capacity to understand or stomach. He's the hardboiled saviour of all us ninnies, in his opinion. I think she's on to something."

Just wanted added more agreement to hairshirt's college friend's very smart wife. That's a pretty common justification when human rights violations are the issue. Lefties who defend the atrocities of "freedom fighters" have also used a version of this argument, but in America it's most commonly heard on the right, IMO.

So it's not unlikely that Cheney sees himself that way.

Adam: How can you still be trotting out this falsehood about "ongoing torture" about as a response to an article demonstrating that it's wrong?

Oh, gosh: someone's written an article demonstrating that the medical testimony that Binyam Mohammed was still being tortured until shortly before his release, is wrong? Where is it?

Or is this just your continued assertion that when Binyam Mohammed says he was being tortured, and so does the doctor who examined him on his return to the UK, they're both "unreliable witnesses"?

I believe Hilzoy asserts that being gagged and fastened to a chair for several hours, then having a too-wide tube forced down your nose, then having your stomach over-filled with liquid food, by people who hold the power of life and death over you and do not mean you well, is somehow "not torture" because, well, prisoners have no right to decide they'd rather die than suffer lifelong imprisonment*, so torturing them in this way is perfectly acceptable.

While I think Hilzoy's assertion that being abused in this way isn't torture is kind of like Republicans asserting that waterboarding isn't torture - just because your President was fine with it happening, doesn't mean it's okay to do it - still, at least it's a consistent position that doesn't involve assuming that eyewitness testimony is "inaccurate" because it takes away some of the shine on Obama.

*And I cannot imagine the despair that prisoners in Guantanamo Bay must have felt when Obama took office, and nothing changed - no change in the conditions of their imprisonment, no word that they would at last have their cases considered, no promise that those who had already been found innocent would be released.

The strongest sign of an ideologue, of course, is someone who finds confirmation in contrary facts.

Quite. Such as you finding confirmation in the medical evidence that Binyam Mohammed was tortured, that obviously he wasn't.

"He's the hardboiled saviour of all us ninnies, in his opinion."

Your friend's wife is a very thoughtful person. I would even say charitable.

There's a lot to her analysis. I'd just add that, beyond a certain point, believing that you are the saviour of "all of us ninnies" is plainly insane.

Or is this just your continued assertion that when Binyam Mohammed says he was being tortured, and so does the doctor who examined him on his return to the UK, they're both "unreliable witnesses"?

Arguing against strawpersons in literally every single paragraph of a response is one thing. Pretending to speak for myself or Hilzoy is quite another.

And manufacturing quotes is, to me, flatly unacceptable. If you are attributing that quote to me, you had better be able to substantiate it. If not, I suggest that you apologize.

"I believe Hilzoy asserts that being gagged and fastened to a chair for several hours, then having a too-wide tube forced down your nose, then having your stomach over-filled with liquid food, by people who hold the power of life and death over you and do not mean you well, is somehow "not torture" because, well, prisoners have no right to decide they'd rather die than suffer lifelong imprisonment*, so torturing them in this way is perfectly acceptable."

If I recall correctly, what I said was that it was not self-evidently torture, and raised issues that, say, pulling out someone's fingernails does not, because its point is to save someone's life, not to get information etc. That leaves the question whether it is torture completely open.

For the record, I think that any competent adult, prisoner or not, has the right to refuse treatment, and that force-feeding counts as 'treatment' of the sort one has the right to refuse. I therefore think that force-feeding is flatly unjustifiable.

It is annoying to have to explain and re-explain why caricatures of oneself are wrong.

Occam's razor-- go with the simplest explanation. Cheney, all his life, lived in a protected world with options and prerogatives that neither he nor, I assume, most of the people in his immediate circle, ever questioned. In the 1960s, he had "other priorities" than military service, an option available to very few young Americans his age. And while he spent plenty of time in the corridors of power, I have never heard that he ever exposed himself to the personal jeopardy that many of the policies he promoted exposed other people to.

As a result, he could speak of the "dark side" as a short-cut to somewhere the United States wanted to go, without any sense of what the dark side really meant, and what it might do to the American spirit. I suspect that when, or if, he ever has to the face the horrors of his policies in this life, he may end up whimpering that he never really knew what the things he supported meant. I suspect that if we hear that from him, we will, strange as it may seem, have heard the truth.

There is also the claim/theory that torture was chosen as the ultimate test case. If the president could torture and not be held accountable, he would not be accountable for anything (apart from sex while Dem).
Not asking Congress, according to this, was the whole point because it would have meant that Congress had any say on what the president does, thus making the whole action devoid of value.

Adam: Arguing against strawpersons in literally every single paragraph of a response is one thing. Pretending to speak for myself or Hilzoy is quite another.

Pretending? Did you not assert that in your view the testimony from Binyam Mohammed, and the doctor that examined him, could just be dismissed as being from "unreliable witnesses"? Hm? What part of that did I make up?

Hilzoy, the peculiar horror of the prisoners on hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay continuing to be tortured by being forcefed in the manner described, is that at least some of them were - perhaps even within weeks - going to be released, and many might be released within a few months.

Clearly, no one in Obama's team thought of these people as human beings to whom that fact could be communicated, as soon as possible after Obama took office: and so their jailors, in confidence that nothing had changed with a new President in office, continued to treat these people as dumb animals who were refusing to eat in captivity.

The notion that forcefeeding a prisoner isn't "obviously" torture is only possible if you refuse to acquaint yourself with the manner in which the prisoners are being forcefed - and if you think that prisoners are dumb animals with no motivation but ornierness for being in such despair they have determined to die in captivity.

Did you not assert that in your view the testimony from Binyam Mohammed, and the doctor that examined him, could just be dismissed as being from "unreliable witnesses"? Hm? What part of that did I make up?

The part where I said "unreliable witnesses." If that is a direct quote, please indicate where I said that. Otherwise, I don't intend to clarify for you an argument that I never actually made.

To briefly answer your question, no, I did not assert that, but I can't prevent you from visiting my intentions or misunderstanding my meaning. I can point out where you seem to be materially falsifying information.

To be perfectly clear, Jes, I know exactly what you're referring to, so before you try to dodge my question via archive-trawling, understand that I am very specifically not engaging with your misrepresentation of the substantive argument -- I am objecting to your attribution of a direct quote to me that, as far as I can tell, is false.

In the absence of Gary Farber (whose computer has died, or at least is on life support) I suppose it falls on me, as another former editor, to be the Language Police here.

Quotation marks (" ") properly used indicate that the words within them are exactly those employed in the source quoted. (For UK readers/writers, apostrophes or inverted commas (' ') serve the identical function.) Variations from this norm are tightly controlled (e.g., over whether in a given context one can alter capitalization, punctuation, or even spelling), but the principle is clear. The reader has every right to assume that the original source will contain the exact words quoted.

I omit for purposes of this discussion the "scare quotes" that are intended to convey a kind of distancing from the terminology (cf. the Oklahoma homophobes keening on about the gay speaker's "fiance" in quotes, as if to deny even the legitimacy of the word). They're overused, even by me [I go back and prune many from my attempts at serious writing], but they do not purport to be what some person/source actually said/wrote.

Quotation marks are NOT properly used when one is paraphrasing the source, or employing an implied argument of the form "A said X, which is equivalent to Y and therefore to Z, so I can justly claim A said Z."

It is legitimate - all too common, IMHO, but legitimate - to make the argument in the previous paragraph explicitly. I grow weary of it, especially from certain commentators, but when it is explicit, at least it can be contested.

But it is simply incorrect - and rude, to boot - to change Hilzoy's claim that she said something 'was not self-evidently torture' (emphasis in original) to the assertion that it 'isn't "obviously" torture'. It may (or may not) be equivalent, but the words are not the same, and therefore "obviously" should not be placed in quotation marks. Doing so is at best careless; at worst, dishonest.

Similarly, we wait to see whether Adam ever actually said - as Jesurgislac insists on, with her repeated use of quotation marks - that Binyan Mohammed et al. were "unreliable witnesses" or whether, as Adam himself responds, he did not. He certainly did not do so in this thread.

In my role as (Acting) Language Police, I take no position on whether he ever said something that is arguably equivalent to these words. If he didn't use those words, you can't quote him as doing so, no matter what his other faults may be.

It's not just Sensible and Courteous, it's the Law. ;}

Looking back to A Perfect Storm, the first time (I think) that Adam accused me of making it up that prisoners were being tortured in Guantanamo Bay after Gates took over from Rumsfeld, I find he did not use the phrase "unreliable witnesses": the phrase he used was "secondhand allegations", though I would argue that if you're asserting that someone who has actually been imprisoned Guantanamo Bay can only provide "secondhand allegation" about his experience there, you are saying he is an unreliable witness.

Hilzoy's assertion that the Guantanamo Bay jailors forcefeeding the prisoners isn't "self-evidently" torture (the distinction between that and "obviously" seems minor, but hey...):

Is this just real lack of familiarity? Being fed a liquid diet by a tube through the nose is unpleasant enough when it is genuinely medical treatment, administered in a hospital to a patient who is awake and consenting. (It's never happened to me: I have, however, read several first-hand accounts by people to whom it has happened, and a couple of accounts by doctors required to do it.)

When a prisoner refuses food, it is a political act. It is often the only form of activism available to a prisoner - certainly the only form that does not entail violence against others. The death of a prisoner by self-starvation, especially in a regulated system like Guantanamo Bay where the guards are ordinary soldiers who will be returning to ordinary duty or going home, may be one signal that can get outside the prison, that can say something to people who may care, who may be able to do something, that - so long as the authorities stick to the rules about how prisoners are to be treated - may get outside the prison. A successful suicide under these circumstances is a successful political act.

Prison authorities are well aware of this. Force-feeding is an act of repression - it is not medical treatment, it is intended to ensure that the prisoner is made to know that he or she (the suffragists in the early part of the 20th century also went on hunger strike) is not able to resist the prison authorities.

Force-feeding in jail - from accounts that have reached the outside world from Guantanamo Bay - is not medical treatment. Nor, from all accounts that have reached the outside world, is it done to the prisoners as if medical treatment. Prisoners have reported that they are gagged so that they cannot protest (this also means they can't tell the person feeding the tube into their nose if it's gone the wrong way into their lung); that they are strapped into the chair for hours before they are "fed"; that often too much liquid food is used so that the prisoner vomits it up again.

Torture, by the clear line set in the UN Convention, is "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity."

Force-feeding is intentionally inflicted pain and suffering, done with the intent of ntimidating or coercing the prisoner, and it is not "inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions." It is, self-evidently, obviously, torture: at least, if you stop to give it any thought at all. And it was being done to prisoners in Guantanamo Bay up until at least February 2009. Obama didn't stop it. Gates didn't stop it.

So yeah: I do find it kind of ironic about people approving the continuity between the past regime in which the US military tortures prisoners, and the present one where Obama didn't bother to make sure torture had actually stopped, in the person of Bob Gates. Ironic? Infuriating. Why would someone who says they oppose torture want "continuity" between a US military that tortures prisoners and a US military that, hopefully, eventually, no longer does?

Shredder, when you are offensive towards someone whom you want to be your ally, your best option is to apologize. Explaining at length that they are silly to be offended and that by expressing offense they are in fact attacking you is perhaps not your worst possible option, but it's an extremely foolish one for someone who claims to want "unity". If you want unity, Shredder, how about demonstrating it by apologizing for being inadvertently offensive?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | January 06, 2009 at 07:56 PM

Oh, snap.

If one considers that the other 75% believes that torture is at least rarely justified depending on the circumstances (this is usually described as a detainee known to likely have information that if extracted will result in saving lives) and that, in the view of probably a similar majority the specific interrogation techniques at issue are marginal and not considered torture, then it is difficult to see how the efforts of those at this site to move to prosecution can succeed.

Posted by: GoodOleBoy | May 04, 2009 at 10:28 AM

No, it's not difficult at all. All one needs to do is look at polls that ask not vague questions along the lines of "can you imagine a situation in which torture is acceptable?" but instead ask specifically about whether the actions taken by the Bush administration were right, and should be investigated.

Large majorities of Americans think there need to be investigations, and about half are already on board with prosecutions.

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