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April 17, 2009

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While it may hurt to be pushed against the wall, any pain experienced is not of the intensity associated with serious physical injury.

Says Jay S. Bybee, M.D., D.O.

Reading these sterile reports makes what happened all the more disgusting. Subjected to such torture, who among us would not have a breaking point and tell the torturers what we think they'd want to hear? You'd think the torturers would be smart enough to realize this, but they kept engaging in torturous behavior. That makes them sadists. That makes them criminals.

Is this the same Zubaydah that is under a death sentence in Jordan? Death by hanging is the normal method in Jordan.

Again, Dave, what is your point? How does his death sentence in Jordan affect whether his treatment by the US was legal or moral? And are you suggesting that the US legal system needs to be more like Jordan's, or what?

Is this the same Zubaydah that is under a death sentence in Jordan? Death by hanging is the normal method in Jordan.

Then hang him.

If you meet him bearing arms against you on the battlefield, shoot him.

If he's captured, tried, and found guilty of a crime for which the punishment is hanging, hang him.

What was done to him is against the law, and was a sadistic exercise in playing with people's heads. Those two facts, BTW, are related.

Is this the same Zubaydah that is under a death sentence in Jordan? Death by hanging is the normal method in Jordan.

How barbaric!

In the US, we mete out state sanctioned death punishment by happy fun time lethal injections!

That's called progress!

Is this the same Zubaydah that is under a death sentence in Jordan? Death by hanging is the normal method in Jordan.

So are you stipulating that any treatment less drastic than what the Jordanians would do to him by way of legally sanctioned execution is OK in your judgment, d'd'd'dave? If not, then what is your point?

"Walling"

So much better than:

Slamming head into wall repeatedly.

Others:

"Confinement box" = coffin
"Rolled towel" = collar

It is obvious which description comes from those justifying their actions, as opposed to those subjected to them.

KCinDC, Russell, TLTABQ

My point is that your moral outrage is misplaced.

In other words your answer to TLTABQ's question is yes?

"In other words your answer to TLTABQ's question is yes?"

No. My answer is: "My point is that your moral outrage is misplaced."

And, on the other thread I made it clear that I think putting an insect in a box with Zubaydah is acceptable. That is a long way from "any treatment less drastic than what the Jordanians would do to him".

In other words your answer to TLTABQ's question is yes?

I think at this point it's more than clear d'd'd'dave doesn't consider the techniques in the memos torture and approves of their continued use.

And, on the other thread I made it clear that I think putting an insect in a box with Zubaydah is acceptable. That is a long way from "any treatment less drastic than what the Jordanians would do to him".

That's relativism, you know.

I think the proper comparison to make is with an intersubjective standard.

My point is that your moral outrage is misplaced.

Misplaced in what sense? What is your criteria for judging whether outrage is correctly placed or not? I ask because I'm trying not to put words in your mouth, and yet now you are being quite vauge about what you mean rather than put your theory of the morality of and justification for rough treatment of prisoners out on the table where it can be dissected or defended in detail.

It seems to me that the outrage which offends your sense of balance is about what was done and who it was done by, rather than being a function of who it was done to. That seems to me to be a fairly clear point that is just passing you by. It doesn't matter who Zubaydah was, what he had done, or what might happen to him if he were in somebody else's custody. Those particulars are irrelevant to the morality of what we did to him.

Let me offer a counterfactual to illustrate this point - why didn't we choose to torture (or whatever other pedantic word you prefer to describe this sort of treatment) in a similar fashion captured Germans (SS and Gestapo specifically) during WW2? Were they less evil than Zubaydah, or less destined than him to a rendevous with a gallows? Or has something changed in us, in our system of values since then?

Our actions in 1942-45, the way we treated Axis prisoners back then, do these things not give you a sense of pride in the US? What the heck has happened to your pride and sense of patriotism, that the events documented in these memos are not grossly offensive to your sense of what the US stands for? The values which you apparently are comfortable with and are defending in this and related threads here are, in part, what our enemies use as ammunition to damage our reputation. Why do you seek to help them in doing that?

Our actions in 1942-45, the way we treated Axis prisoners back then, do these things not give you a sense of pride in the US? What the heck has happened to your pride and sense of patriotism, that the events documented in these memos are not grossly offensive to your sense of what the US stands for? The values which you apparently are comfortable with and are defending in this and related threads here are, in part, what our enemies use as ammunition to damage our reputation. Why do you seek to help them in doing that?

One could say that he hates America--or at least the one that liberals and progressives have an ideal for.

But it's demonstrable that it harms the America that conservatives want, as well.

I made it clear that I think putting an insect in a box with Zubaydah is acceptable

What does anything related to Jordan have to do with that? Can you explain how this Jordan business is useful in any way to your making moral judgments about what the US did to Zubaydah?

Are you saying that you refuse to judge anything immoral as long as something worse might be happening somewhere in the world, or what?

In reverse order

First. " The values which you apparently are comfortable with and are defending in this and related threads here are, in part, what our enemies use as ammunition to damage our reputation."

The term 'our enemies' is very broad. Too broad, in this case, for me to speak to. I will narrow it in this case to radical islamic terrorists. Zubaydah is one, Bin laden is one, the 9/11 attackers were some. Those people hated us and attacked us before the torture. They use anything they can get as ammunition to damage us physically (which is more than just 'our reputation'). So, in my view, this stone is as good as another for them to throw at me - in this narrow case I dismiss your argument on that basis.

Second. Why are "the events documented in these memos not grossly offensive to your sense of what the US stands for?"

Re: the what: I do not like the walling, waterboarding, stress positions, and sleep deprivation. I am not bothered at all by the insect, the face hold, and the box. I can live with the slapping if it is a girly slap rather than a gladiator slap.

Re: the why: I'm sure there are various ideas of what the US stands for. My view is that the US can and should respond to attackers in a vigorous way. This guy, Zubaydah, was all accounts an actual attacker. I believe giving him a girly slap is wholly consistent with what the US stands for.

Third: I got lost in the double negatives here "It seems to me that the outrage which offends your sense of balance is about what was done and who it was done by, rather than being a function of who it was done to. "

Is this what you're saying: Your outrage at what was done and who it was done by offends me. Whereas I vary my outrage depending on who it is done to. If so, then it is my basic position.

d'd'd' would be quite comfortable torturing someone while not knowing whether the person was guilty or innocent. He's an ends justify kind of guy.

Whereas I vary my outrage depending on who it is done to.

Perfect!

Now let's all just agree to orient our legal system around the personal tastes of dave.

And when dave passes on, we'll just appoint a new dave. Actually, maybe dave's rights should pass to his first born son. We'll call each subsequent dave: King.

Brilliant. Why hasn't anyone thought of that before?

Third: I got lost in the double negatives here "It seems to me that the outrage which offends your sense of balance is about what was done and who it was done by, rather than being a function of who it was done to. "

In the interest of pedantry, there are no double negatives in that sentence.

I do not like the walling, waterboarding, stress positions, and sleep deprivation. I am not bothered at all by the insect, the face hold, and the box. I can live with the slapping if it is a girly slap rather than a gladiator slap.

Unfortunately for your position here, dave, we're not talking about an a la carte menu. Nor is your opinion the arbiter of what is, and is not, lawful.

What they did was against domestic and international law. It's against the law because it's wrong, in fact profoundly wrong.

They freaked out, and so they broke the law, and did so in profoundly repugnant ways. Having broken the law, they got their OLC punks to try to cover their butts. Then they tried to keep the cheesy, jesuitical opinions their OLC punks wrote out of public view.

That's the scenario we're talking about, not little Jimmy putting a bug on Susie's ponytail.

"d'd'd' would be quite comfortable torturing someone while not knowing whether the person was guilty or innocent. He's an ends justify kind of guy."

Again, no one disputes (successfully) that Zubaydah was guilty. The interrogation was about getting leads on other plans and not about whether Zubaydah himself was innocent.

Since the only case i've discussed is his, i don't know how you can conclude this.

"Now let's all just agree to orient our legal system around the personal tastes of dave."

You, and every other human being, are selective in what you choose to prosecute.

"In the interest of pedantry, there are no double negatives in that sentence."

'Outrage' and 'offends' are both negative concepts, no.

'Outrage' and 'offends' are both negative concepts, no.

Not grammatically.

You, and every other human being, are selective in what you choose to prosecute.

No. We have prosecutors tasked with applying laws impartially for that.

Again, no one disputes (successfully) that Zubaydah was guilty.

Oh, we tried him for violations of GCIII under existing domestic law, while incarcerating him under the provisions of the same, and had him convicted? Good show!

Wait, I think I missed that in the news.

ddddave, you've ddddug yourself a hole here.

If your only point is "Bugs in a box with Zubaydah are okay by me" -- fine, we all understand that.

But that's not what the post, and everyone's questions, are about. You come swaggering in, accusing everyone of misplaced outrage, when your own outrage is strangely selective and myopic. Focused on the tree, not the forest. Or the hornet, not the hive. Your oblique one-liners aren't helpful, either.

State a position and defend it. Quit it with the oblique one-liners. Look at the damn hive.

I endorse this http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123993446103128041.html

'Outrage' and 'offends' are both negative concepts, no.

Stick with the . . . whatever it is you do, and leave grammar to the grammarians, thanks.

dave, you can endorse that article, but it is irrelevant to the discussion. First of all, it does not endorse torture, only that we should not say we don't torture. After all torture brings for intelligence, not confession. And that is where both the authors are wrong.

There is no evidence that any torture provided information of any value. And any information that those we captured had probably became valueless within days of their capture.

Secondly, you have yet to explain your commet about misplaced moral outrage. If anyone had defended Zubaydah's actions or said they were minor, perhaps you would be justified. Nobody did.

Oh, and I suppose you would have no problem, if I ever became President, if I ordered the torture of, say, Michelle Malkin because I believed she had knowledge of a potential right-wing extremist attack or group that may launch an attack. After all, she would then be a bad person deserving of it, right?

"So, in my view, this stone is as good as another for them to throw at me - in this narrow case I dismiss your argument on that basis."

And yet countless military officers have spoken out against torture as greatly increasing the number of enemies of the U.S.

General Petraeus:

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen serving in Multi-National Force-Iraq:

Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect human dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we - not our enemies - occupy the moral high ground. This strategy has shown results in recent months. Al Qaeda's indiscriminate attacks, for example, have finally started to turn a substantial proportion of the Iraqi population against it.

In view of this, I was concerned by the results of a recently released survey conducted last fall in Iraq that revealed an apparent unwillingness on the part of some US personnel to report illegal actions taken by fellow members of their units. The study also indicated that a small percentage of those surveyed may have mistreated noncombatants. This survey should spur reflection on our conduct in combat.

[...]

Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary. Certainly, extreme physical action can make someone "talk;" however, what the individual says may be of questionable value. In fact, our experience in applying the interrogation standards laid out in the Army Field Manual (2-22.3) on Human Intelligence Collector Operations that was published last year shows that the techniques in the manual work effectively and humanely in eliciting information from detainees.

We are, indeed, warriors. We train to kill our enemies. We are engaged in combat, we must pursue the enemy relentlessly, and we must be violent at times. What sets us apart from our enemies in this fight, however, is how we behave. In everything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that we treat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect. While we are warriors, we are also all human beings. Stress caused by lengthy deployments and combat is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign that we are human.

[...]

Leaders, in particular, need to discuss these issues with their troopers - and, as always, they need to set the right example and strive to ensure proper conduct. We should never underestimate the importance of good leadership and the difference it can make.

Why do you think you know better than General Petraeus?

"This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we - not our enemies - occupy the moral high ground.

Why do you want us to lose, d'd'd'dave?

More generals:
Brigadier General David M. Brahms (Ret. USMC)
Brigadier General James Cullen (Ret. USA)
Brigadier General Evelyn P. Foote (Ret. USA)
Lieutenant General Robert Gard (Ret. USA)
Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn (Ret. USN)
Rear Admiral Don Guter (Ret. USN)
General Joseph Hoar (Ret. USMC)
Rear Admiral John D. Hutson (Ret. USN)
Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy (Ret. USA)
General Merrill McPeak (Ret. USAF)
Major General Melvyn Montano (Ret. USAF Nat. Guard)
General John Shalikashvili (Ret. USA):

[...] U.S. detention and interrogation operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere. Today, it is clear that these operations have fostered greater animosity toward the United States, undermined our intelligence gathering efforts, and added to the risks facing our troops serving around the world.

[...]

The reasoning Mr. Gonzales advanced in this memo was rejected by many military leaders at the time, including Secretary of State Colin Powell who argued that abandoning the Geneva Conventions would put our soldiers at greater risk, would “reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice in supporting the Geneva Conventions,” and would “undermine the protections of the rule of law for our troops, both in this specific conflict [Afghanistan] and in general.” State Department adviser William H. Taft IV agreed that this decision “deprives our troops [in Afghanistan] of any claim to the protection of the Conventions in the event they are captured and weakens the protections afforded by the Conventions to our troops in future conflicts.” Mr.
Gonzales’ recommendation also ran counter to the wisdom of former U.S. prisoners of war. As Senator John McCain has observed: “I am certain we all would have been a lot worse off if there had not been the Geneva Conventions around which an international consensus formed about some very basic standards of decency that should apply even amid the cruel excesses of war.”
Mr. Gonzales’ reasoning was also on the wrong side of history. Repeatedly in our past, the United States has confronted foes that, at the time they emerged, posed threats of a scope or nature unlike any we had previously faced. But we have been far more steadfast in the past in keeping faith with our national commitment to the rule of law.

[...]

In Vietnam, U.S. policy required that the Geneva Conventions be observed for all enemy prisoners of war – both North Vietnamese regulars and Viet Cong – even though the Viet Cong denied our own prisoners of war the same protections. And in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the United States afforded Geneva Convention protections to
more than 86,000 Iraqi prisoners of war held in U.S. custody. The threats we face today – while grave and complex – no more warrant abandoning these basic principles than did the threats of enemies past.

But your military expertise is doubtless far greater.

"In the interest of pedantry, there are no double negatives in that sentence."

There are no grammatical negatives in it, period.

Jeebus, I've been trying to get through to Typepad to post this for over three hours.

Sorry, just thought about it.

Those who think that not torturing will cause harm to our troops: generally armchair warriors who never served.

Those who think that torturing will cause harm to our troops: generally generals, colonels, and the like.

Hmmmm.

Abu Zubaydah:

Harsh interrogation works -- that's the argument President Bush made on Wednesday even as he announced that al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah and 13 other alleged al-Qaida operatives will be transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to face trial. Acknowledging for the first time the existence of secret CIA prisons where the 14 men had been held, Bush claimed that the extreme interrogation techniques used on Zubaydah, whom he called "a senior terrorist leader," and others in the "war on terror," were justified. Bush said that Zubaydah, under the pressure of what Bush referred to as the CIA's "alternative set of procedures," had given up information that proved vital to the United States.

But Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind paints a more complicated picture of Zubaydah. In one of the most hotly discussed sections of his book "The One-Percent Doctrine," Suskind reveals that at least one top FBI analyst considered Zubaydah an "insane, certifiable, split personality" and that he was mainly responsible only for logistics like travel arrangements. According to Suskind's reporting, the interrogation methods used on Zubaydah -- waterboarding and sleep deprivation, among others -- only yielded information about plots that did not exist.

Salon spoke with Suskind about how the Bush administration has tended to oversell Zubaydah's significance and why sophisticated "soft" interrogation techniques have been the most effective.

[...]

At the same time, I think we oversold [Zubaydah's] value -- the administration did -- to the American public. That's indisputable. As well, what folks inside the CIA and FBI were realizing, even as the president and others inside the administration were emphasizing the profound malevolence and value strategically to the capture of Zubaydah, is that Zubaydah is psychologically imbalanced, he has multiple personalities. And he was not involved in various events that we thought he was involved in. During various bombings in the late '90s, he was not where we thought he would be. That's shown in the diaries, where he goes through long lists of quotidian, nonsensical details about various people and what they're doing, folks that he's moving around, getting plane tickets for and serving tea to, all in the voices of three different characters; page after page of his diary, filled, including on dates where, I'm trying to think, it was either the Khobar Towers or the Cole, where we thought he was involved in the bombing and he clearly wasn't.

So that's the real story of Zubaydah, more complicated than the administration would like, and maybe more complicated than the president at this point feels comfortable saying in an election season. It's one of the many instances where you could shine a light through this prism and see an awful lot about some of the dilemmas of the war on terror.

In the case of Zubaydah, when it comes to some of the harsh interrogation tactics he was put through, what occurred then was that he started to talk. He said, as people will, anything to make the pain stop. And we essentially followed every word and various uniformed public servants of the United States went running all over the country to various places that Zubaydah said were targets, and were not.

Ultimately, we tortured an insane man and ran screaming at every word he uttered.

And what do you think of the interrogation procedures the president described?

The fact is that the history of interrogation shows that you do not do particularly well when you confirm expectations, when everybody plays their preordained role. In this case, al-Qaida operatives are trained to believe that the United States, and representatives of the U.S., are bloodthirsty mobsters who will dismember and disembowel. The fact is, when we use harsh techniques we essentially say, "We are going to confirm your expectations."

What has largely worked in all the interrogations, what we got -- and in many cases it's not very much -- but whatever we got, for the most part occurred because we were, let's just say, a little more clever than that. Instead of going medieval, which is the tactic our enemies here embrace, we essentially find a way to confuse their expectations. In many cases, just by treating them as human beings we have created an environment where we get what we so desperately need, which is information that might help save American lives.

That's the key. The key is to not give in to anger, but to do whatever works best. There's clearly been a learning curve on that; some of the harsh techniques used early on have been I think largely abandoned because they didn't work.

[...]

The president said today that Zubaydah was a "senior terrorist leader" and a "trusted associate of bin Laden," and that the "intelligence community believes he had run a terrorist camp in Afghanistan where some of the 9/11 hijackers trained, and that he helped smuggle al-Qaida leaders out of Afghanistan after coalition forces arrived." What do you think of that characterization?

Zubaydah was not involved in key operational planning for al-Qaida. He was involved largely in logistics.

So you think describing him as a "senior terrorist leader" and a "trusted associate of bin Laden" is an overstatement?

I think, again, that the president is overstating a little less than the overstatements when Zubaydah was first captured, but nevertheless, still a bit of an overstatement.

The president also talked about Zubaydah giving away "what he thought was nominal information -- and then stopp[ing] all cooperation," and then they used these harsher tactics and he gave up what the president said was "information on key al-Qaida operatives, including information that helped us find and capture more of those responsible for the attacks on September the 11th. For example, Zubaydah identified one of KSM's [Khalid Sheik Mohammed] accomplices in the 9/11 attacks -- a terrorist named Ramzi bin al Shibh. The information Zubaydah provided helped lead to the capture of bin al Shibh. And together these two terrorists provided information that helped in the planning and execution of the operation that captured Khalid Sheik Mohammed."

Zubaydah gave us the information he gave us because, in using softer techniques, we convinced him that his religious belief in predetermination was such that he believed that he wasn't killed, but captured, when other people died, obviously, that he was wounded and captured for a reason, and the reason was to give us some information. That was why he gave us some information, that was the rationale he used. That was what one would consider more sophisticated, "soft" interrogation techniques, where we got the stuff of value.

So the stuff about bin al Shibh, that came through softer interrogation tactics?

Bin al Shibh, no. I'm not talking about the bin al Shibh stuff or the KSM stuff. Ultimately, we ended up getting the key breaks on those guys, KSM and bin al Shibh, from the Emir of Qatar, who informed us as to their whereabouts a few months before we captured bin al Shibh. That was the key break in getting those guys. KSM slipped away; in June of 2002, the Emir of Qatar passed along information to the CIA as to something that an Al Jazeera reporter had discovered as to the safehouse where KSM and bin al Shibh were hiding in Karachi slums. He passed that on to the CIA, and that was the key break. Whether Zubaydah provided some supporting information is not clear, but the key to capturing those guys was the help of the Emir.

More Zubaydah:

Al-Qaeda captive Abu Zubaida, whose interrogation videotapes were destroyed by the CIA, remains the subject of a dispute between FBI and CIA officials over his significance as a terrorism suspect and whether his most important revelations came from traditional interrogations or from torture.

While CIA officials have described him as an important insider whose disclosures under intense pressure saved lives, some FBI agents and analysts say he is largely a loudmouthed and mentally troubled hotelier whose credibility dropped as the CIA subjected him to a simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding and to other "enhanced interrogation" measures.

The question of whether Abu Zubaida -- whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein -- was an unstable source who provided limited intelligence under gentle questioning, or a hardened terrorist who cracked under extremely harsh measures, goes to the heart of the current Washington debate over coercive interrogations and torture.

[...]

But FBI officials, including agents who questioned him after his capture or reviewed documents seized from his home, have concluded that even though he knew some al-Qaeda players, he provided interrogators with increasingly dubious information as the CIA's harsh treatment intensified in late 2002.

In legal papers prepared for a military hearing, Abu Zubaida himself has asserted that he told his interrogators whatever they wanted to hear to make the treatment stop.

Retired FBI agent Daniel Coleman, who led an examination of documents after Abu Zubaida's capture in early 2002 and worked on the case, said the CIA's harsh tactics cast doubt on the credibility of Abu Zubaida's information.

"I don't have confidence in anything he says, because once you go down that road, everything you say is tainted," Coleman said, referring to the harsh measures. "He was talking before they did that to him, but they didn't believe him. The problem is they didn't realize he didn't know all that much."

[...]

Other officials, including Bush, have said that during those early weeks -- before the interrogation turned harsh -- Abu Zubaida confirmed that Mohammed's role as the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

A rift nonetheless swiftly developed between FBI agents, who were largely pleased with the progress of the questioning, and CIA officers, who felt Abu Zubaida was holding out on them and providing disinformation. Tensions came to a head after FBI agents witnessed the use of some harsh tactics on Abu Zubaida, including keeping him naked in his cell, subjecting him to extreme cold and bombarding him with loud rock music.

"They said, 'You've got to be kidding me,' " said Coleman, recalling accounts from FBI employees who were there. " 'This guy's a Muslim. That's not going to win his confidence. Are you trying to get information out of him or just belittle him?' " Coleman helped lead the bureau's efforts against Osama bin Laden for a decade, ending in 2004.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III eventually ordered the FBI team to withdraw from the interrogation, largely because bureau procedures prohibit agents from being involved in such techniques, according to several officials familiar with the episode.

[...]

Coleman, a 31-year FBI veteran, joined other former law enforcement colleagues in expressing skepticism about Abu Zubaida's importance. Abu Zubaida, he said in an interview, was a "safehouse keeper" with mental problems who claimed to know more about al-Qaeda and its inner workings than he really did.

Abu Zubaida's diary, which Coleman said he examined at length, was written in three distinct personalities -- one younger, one older and one the same age as Abu Zubaida. The book was full of flowery and philosophical meanderings, and made little mention of terrorism or al-Qaeda, Coleman said.

Looking at other evidence, including a serious head injury that Abu Zubaida had suffered years earlier, Coleman and others at the FBI believed that he had severe mental problems that called his credibility into question. "They all knew he was crazy, and they knew he was always on the damn phone," Coleman said, referring to al-Qaeda operatives. "You think they're going to tell him anything?"

[...]

But, Coleman and other law enforcement officials said, CIA officials concluded to the contrary that Abu Zubaida was a major player, and they saw any lack of information as evidence that he was resisting interrogation. Much of the threat information provided by Abu Zubaida, Coleman said, "was crap."

"There's an agency mind-set that there was always some sort of golden apple out there, but there just isn't, especially with guys like him," Coleman said.

Charles C. Krulak, commandant of the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999, and Joseph P. Hoar, commander in chief of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994 say:

[...] These assertions that "torture works" may reassure a fearful public, but it is a false security. We don't know what's been gained through this fear-driven program. But we do know the consequences.

As has happened with every other nation that has tried to engage in a little bit of torture -- only for the toughest cases, only when nothing else works -- the abuse spread like wildfire, and every captured prisoner became the key to defusing a potential ticking time bomb. Our soldiers in Iraq confront real "ticking time bomb" situations every day, in the form of improvised explosive devices, and any degree of "flexibility" about torture at the top drops down the chain of command like a stone -- the rare exception fast becoming the rule.

To understand the impact this has had on the ground, look at the military's mental health assessment report released earlier this month. The study shows a disturbing level of tolerance for abuse of prisoners in some situations. This underscores what we know as military professionals: Complex situational ethics cannot be applied during the stress of combat. The rules must be firm and absolute; if torture is broached as a possibility, it will become a reality.

This has had disastrous consequences. Revelations of abuse feed what the Army's new counterinsurgency manual, which was drafted under the command of Gen. David Petraeus, calls the "recuperative power" of the terrorist enemy.

Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld once wondered aloud whether we were creating more terrorists than we were killing. In counterinsurgency doctrine, that is precisely the right question. Victory in this kind of war comes when the enemy loses legitimacy in the society from which it seeks recruits and thus loses its "recuperative power."

The torture methods that Tenet defends have nurtured the recuperative power of the enemy. This war will be won or lost not on the battlefield but in the minds of potential supporters who have not yet thrown in their lot with the enemy. If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy. This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it.

Anyone who knows anyting about COIN knows that the way to win isn't to outrage the people you population you're trying to win over by becoming infamous for torture and ill-treatment of captives. It dramatically increases the number of people who will rise up to fight you. Endless studies of prisoners taken in Iraq, and of other jihadists, have quoted innumerable of them as stating that they were motivated to jihad by such events as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the use of torture and indiscriminate killing.

Will not doing these things make all jihadists quit? Of course not. But it'll certainly lower the number of people moved to engage in jihad, according to endless generals and experts.

I'll take their word over that of Some Tough Guy On The Internet.

"I suppose you would have no problem, if I ever became President, if I ordered the torture of, say, Michelle Malkin because I believed she had knowledge of a potential right-wing extremist attack or group that may launch an attack."

Let's get Terry Nichols on the waterboard, like, tomorrow.

If you think he's been out of the loop too long, try any of these folks:

http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=1027

We got names right there. Folks who openly call for violence against other Americans, and many of whom call for the violent overthrow of the US government.

Why wait another day? Round them up and send them off to Gitmo. Strip'em and whip'em. Waterboard them, douse them with cold water and make them stand for hours. Slam'em against a wall, slap the sh*t out of them.

Make'em talk.

Cool with you, dave?

If not, why not?

I endorse this http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123993446103128041.html

Then you endorse is an article that ignores evidence, facts and experience.

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