« I've Got A Little List | Main | Ambiguity (Part II) »

July 18, 2006

Comments

Both of these things would leave soldiers confused and potentially vulnerable to prosecution for techniques they believe are legal. I find it pretty unlikely that we would prosecute soldiers who obeyed the Field Manual, given the political ramifications and potential due process concerns, but it's possible.

Given that under the present system, murdering by torture an Iraqi prisoner of war is punished by 60 days of barrack confinement and a $6000 fine, it would hardly matter very much to soldiers if they were prosecuted - providing no photographs of their crimes get out to the general public.

Based on these facts, there is no need for any confusion about how the military should apply the prohibition on "humiliating and degrading treatment," and no need for military interrogators to fear war crimes prosecutions for conduct that was legal until a few weeks ago

I still disagree, mainly because "humiliating and degrading treatment" is entirely a cultural, religious, and personal issue. It is the individual that gets to decide what is and is not "humiliating and degrading treatment". It provides a perfect vehicle for captives to further exploit their main advantage over us: that we have to follow the rules while they have no such limitations.

I’m repeating myself, but if I am the detainee:
-I find white cotton sheets to be degrading. Martha Stewart 300 thread count laundered in Downy is OK.
-My religion requires me to smoke cigarettes and drink large quantities of beer on a daily basis. It is a mortal sin for me not to have at least one conjugal visit weekly (from the closest escort service). Religious services are conducted via a cable channel you call “ESPN”. The Grand Phooba (ultimate religious authority) has issued a proclamation that this is so.
-I am deeply humiliated being interrogated by any male. Only scantily clad females are acceptable.
-Anything else is "humiliating and degrading treatment" to me personally, and thus a war crime.

Yes, of course I am being facetious. But surely you can see the potential here to further exploit our main weaknesses. Terrorists have a training manual on how to act in captivity. How long do you think it will be before it is updated to incorporate new strategies specifically exploiting these changes?

I have no problem if some international body wants to draw up a list of what reasonably constitutes "humiliating and degrading treatment" across all cultures and individuals. Give these folks a reasonable standard that can be applied to everyone equally. As it is, the rules are going to be something like: “Well I can do A, but not B or C when I am interrogating this Pakistani, but with the Sunni guy I have to remember that A is off the table, and with the Shia guy B could get me life imprisonment.”

It is too ambiguous.

I have no problem if some international body wants to draw up a list of what reasonably constitutes "humiliating and degrading treatment" across all cultures and individuals.

All cultures and individuals aren't identical to each other, on the big stuff, let alone the finer points. If they were, your type wouldn't whine like little bitches about "multiculturalism."

It is the individual that gets to decide what is and is not "humiliating and degrading treatment".

Well, no, it isn't, as has been adequately explained to you previously.

"It is the individual that gets to decide what is and is not 'humiliating and degrading treatment'."

No, really, the U.S. armed forces, and their JAGs are perfectly capable of coming up with their own rules.

You seem really stuck on this point, OCSteve, and there's no good reason I can see to be. No one is saying, besides you, that al Qaeda or its enthusiasts have to be granted consultation rights on this issue. That's just wrong.

The DoD (or Congress) draws up specific guidelines on what is and isn't "humiliating and degrading treatment."

End of story.

If they were, your type wouldn't whine like little bitches about "multiculturalism."

Wow. Tough counterpoint. I concede, being a whiny little bitch and all…


The DoD (or Congress) draws up specific guidelines on what is and isn't "humiliating and degrading treatment."
End of story.

Sorry – again, not. What is humiliating and degrading to one is laughable to another. If you tore up a bible in front of me and flushed the pieces down the toilet I would be pissed only if you made me late for chow. How can Congress say what I do or do not find humiliating? That is strictly based in my upbringing – Congress or the DoD knows squat about that. Can you honestly say that Congress gets to decide what is humiliating or degrading to you?

If you tore up a bible in front of me and flushed the pieces down the toilet I would be pissed only if you made me late for chow.

And yet exactly that was done in training interrogators, for very obvious reasons.

To be clearer (hopefully) – here is my point:

The E-6 interrogator should not be expected to memorize and correctly implement the cultural, religious, and personal “hot buttons” of every individual they may encounter as part of their assigned tasks. To expect that in an international, multi-religion, and all around culture-of-the-victim societies is insane. Give these folks some clear guidelines – then, if they violate them, they are wrong and prosecute them. I am not saying they are faultless – I am saying they had crappy guidelines to begin with and this BS only confuses things.

Degradation and humiliation are personal and cultural by definition. This language is ambiguous and open to abuse - period. It is “feel good” crap with no defined boundaries

"Can you honestly say that Congress gets to decide what is humiliating or degrading to you?"

Why would Congress care about my opinion?

This is ridiculous; Congress doesn't write guidelines, and neither does the DoD, by consulting prisoners about how they feel.

"Degradation and humiliation are personal and cultural by definition."

Who cares? One writes objective rules, and that's that, and what a prisoner feels about it is as irrelevant as what any prisoner feels about the conditions of prisoner treatment.

This is true no matter who the prisoner is. What they think is irrelevant. That some will disagree doesn't matter. I don't know anyone who is arguing that it should.

Oh, and the "your type wouldn't whine like little bitches" addressed to you, OCSteve, was way out of line, IMO.

OCSteve: The E-6 interrogator should not be expected to memorize and correctly implement the cultural, religious, and personal “hot buttons” of every individual they may encounter as part of their assigned tasks.

You're shoving three things together that don't make sense.

Why shouldn't an interrogator be expected to memorize the cultural and religious "hot buttons" of every individual they are expected to interrogate? Do you think that Americans can't be expected to memorize that much information? (I disagree.) I don't understand what you mean by "implement" - but memorize, sure, why not? What's your problem with Americans being expected to memorize useful and necessary information? Again, do you think Americans just aren't capable of memorization? I'm okay with Americans being given a crib sheet to consult if they really can't remember stuff, but most people are better at remembering things than they think they are, if they're given the right training.

If interrogation is important, the right training should be given. If interrogation is unimportant, why's it being done?

Personal "hot buttons" - well, if something is an unexpected personal "hot button" an interrogator wouldn't necessarily know anything about it in advance. But once an interrogator knows about a personal "hot button" for a prisoner being interrogated, are you seriously suggesting that this information should just be forgotten? That it shouldn't be memorized?

You are talking as if interrogating prisoners was an unimportant lousy job that no one can be expected to receive special training for.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad