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November 15, 2007

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Deroy says waterboarding isn't repugnant.

I take it Deroy thinks it also wasn't repugnant when black men in Miss. were waterboarded in the 20s to obtain false confessions.

Or it wasn't repugnant to round up women and children (majority of which were American citizens) and put them into concentration camps, merely because of their ancestry.

Yes, inflicting pain without causing lasting physical effects is clearly all right, as George Orwell pointed out:

"You are afraid," said O'Brien, watching his face, "that in another moment something is going to break. Your especially fear is that it will be your backbone. You have a vivid mental picture of the vertebrae snapping apart and the spinal fluid dripping out of them. That is what you are thinking, is it not, Winston?"

Winston did not answer. O'Brien drew back the lever on the dial. The wave of pain receded almost as quickly as it had come.

"That was forty," said O'Brien. "You can see that the numbers on this dial run up to a hundred. Will you please remember, throughout our conversation, that I have it in my power to inflict pain on you at any moment and to whatever degree I choose?"

Once upon a time American conservatives would have sided with Winston rather than O'Brien.

There are three major problems with Patterico's whole hypothesis and post.

First of all is his name calling, that anybody who disagreed with him is self-righteous. Talk about being judgemental.

Secondly, as mentioned several times, the whole hypothetical is ridiculous. The biggest assumption in starting the torture is that it would take only 2.5 minutes for KSM to fess up.

Thirdly, by accepting that specific scenario as justified you are , no matter how you parse it, a supporter of torture. I remember the old Johnny Carson interview with a rather voluptuous female guest (whose name escapes me). First he asked her if she would sleep with him for a million dollars. She responded in the positive. hen he asked if she would sleep with him for $100. She responded with "What do you think I am, a prostitute?" His response was "We've already determined that, now we are just negotiating the price."

For those who are Christians, such as myself, and find themselves leaning toward a positive view of torture at times, I recommend they read the quote from Christ that begins, "For what profits a man to gain the world..."

John Miller: That exchange was just what I thought of when I read Patterico's hypothetical. Is it Carson though? I've heard it attributed to George Bernard Shaw.

Very good post. My (few) discussions with "Bush dead-enders" (who in these cases I know to be intelligent people) always have ended when I realize that they indeed have this view of a huge irrational force intent on (and, weirdly, capable of) destroying us.
Given the difference in factual assumptions that this shows, I let the discussion end. And of course the assumption that our enemies are crazy and evil helps justify arguments that *this time* we are justified in doing X.

I realize that they indeed have this view of a huge irrational force intent on (and, weirdly, capable of) destroying us.

Do you think their views are entirely post-9/11, or is it just the current expression of the old Paranoid Style in American Politics?

Is it Carson though? I've heard it attributed to George Bernard Shaw.

I've heard it attributed to Winston Churchill.

DCA--it doesn't even have to be "Bush dead-enders". For example, try reading

The problem with Deroy Murdock's "thesis" is that if you give me five minutes with him in John Thullen's garage, we'll find out he planned 9/11, murdered the Peterson woman, and voted for Bill Clinton.

Hmm, maybe torture ain't so bad, but I'll resist my base impulses.

I'd love to see the transcript of the KSM waterboarding interrogation. I bet we'd get all kinds of reliable information beyond what the torturers asked:

KSM: "George Bush has a mangina!"

KSM: "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are TRUE!"

KSM: "Per Madison, the 2nd Amendment was written such that 'well regulated'..."

KSM: "Your [the interrogator] Momma eats kitty litter"
etc.

I've heard the million dollar question attributed to W.C. Fields, FWIW. I wonder if there's any chance it could be a Mullah Nasruddin story . . . .

"Though clearly uncomfortable, waterboarding loosens lips without causing permanent physical injuries (and unlikely even temporary ones)."

By this approach, rape would also be an effective tool for gaining information. Even less chance of a potential fatality.

By this approach, rape would also be an effective tool for gaining information. Even less chance of a potential fatality.

And raping a terrorist suspect's wife or son or daughter in front of him would be even more effective. Which is, I presume, why that technique was used by the Americans in Abu Ghraib as well as by its former owners.

Hmm, I already responded to the Johnny Carson thing here. Yeah, Churchill and Shaw are among the perennials for this chestnut, which is why I'm quite sure John's story that he remembers seeing Johnny Carson enact it is mistaken.

The problem with Deroy Murdock's "thesis" is that if you give me five minutes with him in John Thullen's garage, we'll find out he planned 9/11, murdered the Peterson woman, and voted for Bill Clinton.

Don't forget the abortion!

Yup. The fact that torure opponents forget at their peril is that the moral arguments against torture unavoidably depend upon the STRATEGIC arguments against it.

"Yup."

Who and what are you agreeing with?

"The fact that torure opponents forget at their peril is that the moral arguments against torture unavoidably depend upon the STRATEGIC arguments against it."

How so?

And raping a terrorist suspect's wife or son or daughter in front of him would be even more effective. Which is, I presume, why that technique was used by the Americans in Abu Ghraib as well as by its former owners.

I think that is not a true statement.

So, who else at ObWi agrees that Americans rape children in front of their parents? Show of hands, please.

Actually, I also think that is not a true statement, or at least I don't know the source for it. I know of sexual assaults & I know of at least one situation where we abused a teenaged son non-sexually in front of a parent but I don't know what Jes's source is.

So, who else at ObWi agrees that Americans rape children in front of their parents? Show of hands, please.

If you say it like that, it could well be true: after all, there almost certainly are (or were) Americans who do just that. Perhaps you should be a little more careful with your leading questions.

Katherine: I know of sexual assaults & I know of at least one situation where we abused a teenaged son non-sexually in front of a parent but I don't know what Jes's source is.

Actually, I think my memory from three years ago was conflating sexual abuse by US guards of female Iraqi prisoners with deliberate sexual torture of Iraqi prisoners . While I wouldn't rule out that not having happened to women as well as men (as the CSMonitor article makes clear, an Iraqi woman who was imprisoned in Abu Ghraib has every motivation, once out, to say she wasn't raped or sexually molested in any way) sexual abuse used as a form of torture is only definitely confirmed to have been done to male prisoners by Americans.

But there are certainly reports of women and children being raped by Iraqi guards in front of US soldiers (see here and here. Sy Hersh says that there are videotapes of children raped at Abu Ghraib. And while I suppose it may make a difference somewhere on the cosmic scale of things if guards raped adult prisoners and children because they knew they could and no one would stop them or prosecute them (and no one did or would), or if guards were actually given instructions by the chain of command to rape wives, sons, daughters in front of terrorist suspects to get them to confess.

With another war on the horizon, our own fear has – sadly – become a threat to the larger world.

This is why I think that maybe the term "War on Terror" isn't such a bad phrase. We're just using it wrong.

We need to declare war on terror. War on five-colored terrorometers. War on being terrified by men with dark skin and beards. War on spending every airplane flight in frantic terror that the person next to you is doing something different and, therefore, might blow the plane up. War on being terrorized by authority figures in uniforms who imagine that they are part of the War on Terror.

I'd fight in that war.

Not only are some things just wrong, immoral no matter what strawman argument one can cook up to support the urge to do it, also this very immoral thing is also vastly stupid and ineffective.

The fact that any information gained by torture is garbage information-----either one says anything to get the torture to stop, regardless of what is really true, or one's brains are addled by the torture one is subjected to, making one incapable of holding on to what is real, let alone telling it--------that fact leads to an ugly fork in the logic chain:

-Either the torturers are so stupid they can't realize the "information" they are getting is garbage, and thus keep abusing their captives out of a delusional fidelity to the process, or their orders----------or, they know full well the information they get is garbage, and aren't doing it to gain information.

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