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May 11, 2009


"A separate online posting"‽

That's all the credit you get? Bah. You deserve far better, hilzoy.

Greg Miller- why not just give the cred? Although before we denounce him, we should ask him if he did, and then his editor snipped it.

Sorry, hilzoy- we know you do great work.

I did email him, but haven't heard back. (Not that I really expect him to be reading his email late on a Sunday night.)

It's not so much that *I* want the credit; it just seemed like such an odd thing to do that I decided to flip it around.

I'm glad you sent the e-mail.

If I were a reporter, I think I would be frustrated that several hundred to thousand word stories could be scooped by a blog posting a snippet, and looser rules applying.

This however, is not one of those cases, say where TPM posts a blurb and then (still wrongfully gets frozen out of a long followup in the Times, or what not). This seems like a misplaced case of newspaper frustration.

Anyhow, I applaud both your willingness to reach out and get the initial comment from the Prof, and I applaud your asking some questions of the LA Times. I was glad they wrote the article, I thought it was a good one.

"I did email him"

As did I, querying the source of that quote, copying the query to the LA Times' Assistant Managing Editor, Copy Desks & Standards; National Editor; Ass't National Editor; and Washington Editor.

You're extraordinarily good at pwning people with class.

There are other reasons why sleep deprivation may well turn out to be more important than waterboarding, as details come out. Some questions journalists might find useful to ask: how many prisoners were subjected to SD (not just CIA prisoners); where was SD conducted (eg in DOD facilities); was SD always medically monitored? Really?

but hilzoy.

surely you don't think newspapers have to play by the same rules that bloggers are bound by, do you?

i mean, after all: newspapers do original reporting. they actually discover and cultivate sources; they interview people, follow leads, create story-lines.

they produce new content.

blogs simply recycle what newspapers say.

now do you see?

Now, now, can you blame poor Greg ? "An online posting" still sounds semi-official. If he'd said "posted on a blog" how could you ever take that quote seriously ?
And if he'd said "posted on the political blog 'Obsidian Wings'"... Why, that would imply that Greg Miller not only reads blogs but is familiar enough with the medium to quote them by name. Talk about getting blog cooties !

You're extraordinarily good at pwning people with class.


Hilzoy, don't you know that as a blogger you are by definition a parasite? You should be grateful that the noble Los Angeles Times deigned to use your reporting, thereby allowing you the privilege of a small repayment of your host.

Respect your betters.

Will it be necessary, in order to create the political climate necessary to compel U.S. officials to obey and enforce the law, for us to have public discussion and explanations of why each torture techique is actually torture?

I admire Hilzoy's patience to start at ground zero, over and over again. For myself, I feel a sickening dread at the prospect.

But if it will put George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld in the dock where they belong, I will steel myself for the it and try to participate constructively.

For the last time in a while, then:

Our government has spent millions over the last sixty years on research into torture, has refined psychological torture techniques into an identifiable program, has taught these techniques to tens of thousands of police, military, and paramilitary. It has funded organizations putting them into practice. These techniques, of which sleep deprivation is a major and crucial component, are recognized by everyone who has studied torture as torture.

Torture -- not "techniques that some critics say amount to torture".

This isn't new. It hasn't just been discovered that sleep deprivation is torture. It has been known to be torture for fifty years at least. If it the Iranian Revolutionary Guard kidnaped a U.S. citizen and kept them awake for days, absolutely no one in the U.S. press or political system would think twice about calling that torture.

Sleep deprivation is torture. Torture is a crime under all conditions, for which there are no justifications under law.

If the U.S. government is going to wait until there is no political risk in enforcing the law, then we do not really live under the rule of law. And it will be too late to pretend that we do, because, since there is universal jurisdiction, others will act if we don't.

Hah. Was going to email you the link to that article, Hil, but figured that, in this instance, the honour was, alas, a most dubious one. Torture is torture, and an a$$hole is an a$$hole--full fncking stop. And the braintrust @ the LA Times are, to paraphrase someone with first-hand experience in such matters, major league a$$holes.

FYI: The Rachel Maddow Show did right by Hil back in April:

Bloggers at Obsidian Wings and TPM Muckraker caught up with Professor Horne, who has now responded to the misuse of his work with adjectives like “saddened” and “surprised” and “appalled.”

There. Now, honestly, how hard was that, hmm?

Maddow is a real pro.

Even if you disagree with her, you cannot fault her for not being thorough.

hilzoy, it is nice you are getting recognized, if not credited. But this thread has missed the point you are trying to make, I think. I don't see as someone who tries to subtly blow your own horn.

The part you quoted starts out with the biggest flaw in the article: "Because of its effectiveness -- as well as the perception that it was less objectionable than waterboarding, head-slamming or forced nudity -- sleep deprivation may be seen as a tempting technique to restore."

I haven't read the whole article due to time constraints, but does this idiot talk at all or provide any evidence for the "effectiveness" of this type of torture.

To me, it may well be one of the least effective. When tired I can keep my mouth shut, but too exhausted and i won't even get my name right, much less anything else. As Professor Horne noted, IIRC, profound lack of sleep creates someone who will basically do whatever the interrogaor wants. That is hardly effectiveness.

profound lack of sleep creates someone who will basically do whatever the interrogaor wants. That is hardly effectiveness.

Unless you grasp that that's what torture is for: breaking people down, getting false confessions, destroying the victim's sense of self. It has eff-all to do with real interrogation.

"It has eff-all to do with real interrogation."

Nell, you keep insisting on this, but thetruth is that historically it really has depended on circumstances.

If you want to say that something like 90% of the time that's what it's about, fine. Insisting that no one, ever, in the history of the world, has ever tried to torture anyone for information, however, is over-statement. I don't think it helps make the point to over-state like that.

As Professor Horne noted, IIRC, profound lack of sleep creates someone who will basically do whatever the interrogaor wants. That is hardly effectiveness.

It is if the "effectiveness" you're looking for is eliciting false confessions.

See, for years now I’ve been one of those liberals who points out torture, on top of being a gross violation of basic human rights and a poison that corrupts your society, is also a really bad idea because it doesn’t work as promised.... [Victims] hope by providing something the torturer wants to hear, the torture will stop.
But we weren’t cynical enough, because apparently the Bush administration authorized torture in hopes of getting false confessions.

[Quoting from this article]:
The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

Such information would’ve provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush’s main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network and Saddam’s regime.

This is nothing any who has read volume 1 of the Gulag Archipelago didn't already know.


Maddow is not really that much of a pro, in fact I would say for as sharp as she is, she's relatively green in terms of sharp analysis, and interview skills. I'd like for her to improve, but I don't think her genre really demands true quality, just entertainment.

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