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Will Rumsfeld and others be prosecuted for war crimes?
Posted: 24 February 2009 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Bryan - 23 February 2009 11:27 PM
VYAZMA - 23 February 2009 05:56 PM
Bryan - 23 February 2009 07:37 AM

The analysis by the Laws of War folks seems curiously ambiguous concerning the differences between POW status and civilian protections.  It may be that I’m not reading it with sufficient attention to detail.  On the other hand, (head of LoW) Evan Wallach’s essay on waterboarding in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law was significantly flawed.  Which ought to be inconceivable coming from a man of his experience.

Who said Wallachs essay was flawed?How do you know it was flawed?

I say it was flawed.  If you’ve read it then it shouldn’t be difficult to see why.

And I’ve found I’m not alone in my judgment, though I relied on no others in reaching my conclusions.

That’s what I thought.No I didn’t read it.I never even heard of any Wallach.I’m simply trying to expose the methods of your argumentation-which truly are Flawed.It’s bad enough you spew right wing propaganda,but when you use your patented methods of bending syntax,context and doubletalk,I feel I must step in.
You realize that this is at least a 49% Humanist based station here,right?You want to poke around and argue about the definition of torture,and gargle the same right-wing rhetoric.The question is not Humankinds perception of “Torture”,it is a question of trying to get Humankind to reduce the pain and violence we inflict on one another.That’s what jesus would have wanted.Ask a christian.They’ll tell ya’.

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Posted: 24 February 2009 11:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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VYAZMA - 24 February 2009 05:08 PM
Bryan - 23 February 2009 11:27 PM
VYAZMA - 23 February 2009 05:56 PM
Bryan - 23 February 2009 07:37 AM

The analysis by the Laws of War folks seems curiously ambiguous concerning the differences between POW status and civilian protections.  It may be that I’m not reading it with sufficient attention to detail.  On the other hand, (head of LoW) Evan Wallach’s essay on waterboarding in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law was significantly flawed.  Which ought to be inconceivable coming from a man of his experience.

Who said Wallachs essay was flawed?How do you know it was flawed?

I say it was flawed.  If you’ve read it then it shouldn’t be difficult to see why.

And I’ve found I’m not alone in my judgment, though I relied on no others in reaching my conclusions.

That’s what I thought.No I didn’t read it.I never even heard of any Wallach.I’m simply trying to expose the methods of your argumentation-which truly are Flawed.

Congratulations.  Now that you have tricked me into exposing my methods of argumentation and pronounced them Flawed (sic), what is the justification for your judgment?

It’s bad enough you spew right wing propaganda,but when you use your patented methods of bending syntax,context and doubletalk,I feel I must step in.

How would it constitute bent syntax, abused context or doubletalk for me to say I find fault with Wallach’s essay?

You realize that this is at least a 49% Humanist based station here,right?

I’ve never put a figure on it, but part of the reason for my posting here is that I am pretty well guaranteed to find somebody who disagrees and hopefully somebody who can capably represent the other side.  I prefer the very best arguments I can get from those with whom I disagree.

You want to poke around and argue about the definition of torture,and gargle the same right-wing rhetoric.

Yes, I suppose I do.  It helps, of course, if I’m not dealing with folks who make waterboarding torture by definition (circulus in demonstrando) instead of according to principles in the law.

The question is not Humankinds perception of “Torture”,it is a question of trying to get Humankind to reduce the pain and violence we inflict on one another.That’s what jesus would have wanted.Ask a christian.They’ll tell ya’.

Ah.  So it doesn’t really matter whether or not Wallach’s essay is flawed.  Peace out.

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Posted: 25 February 2009 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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You’re not qualified to judge Wallachs work.You should have stated that you didn’t agree with his analysis of the History,and definition of Water-based tortures.You technically can’t state that his work is flawed,I highly doubt that you have any qualifications to define the Codes of conduct in International Affairs,or any other legal Wartime acts or laws.
No most likely your just a strident,fervent,Right-winger.The kind that like to let everyone know that they’re for “A tough stance on crime,terrorists,or anyother threat to the status-quo.“The kind that want everyone to believe that we are in danger of attack at all times,therefore it is necessary to use torture or other harsh treatments to get info.(and to let everyone know we mean business).
What kind of people look for the legal definition of torture and the legal guidelines of how far someone can go in mistreating someone before it is legally considered torture?(I know your answer-people who want to keep me safe right?BS)
Anyways,what did you find flawed about Wallachs Essay?You didn’t say.You just stated it was flawed.Whoopie.Then you followed that up with some smokescreen,about how it surprised you that he could have made these assertions,coming from such a man.What a qualifier!!
If your spelling incorrect note was because I capitalized “Flawed”,I’m sorry.My grammar is poor.

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Posted: 25 February 2009 10:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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In all the writings I have read about torture, I have never seen anything supporting its efficacy. The elephant in the room here is the ugly truth that proponents of torture are, in my opinion, motivated solely by the evil desire to inflict pain on those they dislike. Advocates of torture are motivated by sadism, not patriotism.

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Posted: 25 February 2009 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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VYAZMA - 25 February 2009 09:15 AM

You’re not qualified to judge Wallachs work.

Why not?  Does it take an expert to find equivocation and other instances of faulty reasoning?

You should have stated that you didn’t agree with his analysis of the History,and definition of Water-based tortures.

I did, and I gave the reason for my disagreement.  His work was flawed.

You technically can’t state that his work is flawed,I highly doubt that you have any qualifications to define the Codes of conduct in International Affairs,or any other legal Wartime acts or laws.

What qualification do I need for that other than the ability to read?

No most likely your just a strident,fervent,Right-winger.

I am, indeed.  But my analysis of the Wallach essay is pretty sound regardless.  You probably don’t want to think so because you are a strident, fervent, left-winger.  wink

The kind that like to let everyone know that they’re for “A tough stance on crime,terrorists,or anyother threat to the status-quo.“The kind that want everyone to believe that we are in danger of attack at all times,therefore it is necessary to use torture or other harsh treatments to get info.(and to let everyone know we mean business).

Bored, now.

What kind of people look for the legal definition of torture and the legal guidelines of how far someone can go in mistreating someone before it is legally considered torture?(I know your answer-people who want to keep me safe right?BS)

“Lawyers” would be my first answer, actually.  They tend to look at just about every law with an eye toward its loopholes.  But the secondary answer is much as you predicted.  If one believes that a prisoner may be induced to offer up valuable information that could save lives through the use of techniques that do not appear to fit the traditional notions of torture, then it makes very good sense to look into the legal definition of torture to figure out how far one can go.  I don’t see your “BS” proclamation as a particularly effective rebuttal to that point.  I don’t even know if you’re qualified to call “BS.”  wink

Anyways,what did you find flawed about Wallachs Essay?You didn’t say.You just stated it was flawed.Whoopie.Then you followed that up with some smokescreen,about how it surprised you that he could have made these assertions,coming from such a man.What a qualifier!!

I don’t think this thread is necessarily the place to dissect Wallach’s essay.  But just for starters his key example, the Sawada case, supposedly gives us an example of waterboarding designated by the tribunal as torture.  But that’s baloney because (as Wallach even admits), torture was not at issue in the Sawada case.  Sawada was prosecuted for violations of the Geneva conventions respecting POWs (starts on page 10 of this rough draft copy).  POW treatment is a special status under Geneva, one that is not thought to apply to terrorist prisoners.  In addition, Wallach downplays the standard definition of the Japanese brand of water torture, which was described in the report of the tribunal that handled the Japanese prosecutions.  That definition has it as normal practice to forcibly expel swallowed water from the stomach, such as by stepping on or literally jumping on the prisoner.  The many varieties of water torture, including techniques that involve forcing water into deep body cavities, Wallach cheerfully equates with modern waterboarding.  That’s equivocation, and the essay is literally full of it.

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Posted: 25 February 2009 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Chris Crawford - 25 February 2009 10:07 AM

In all the writings I have read about torture, I have never seen anything supporting its efficacy. The elephant in the room here is the ugly truth that proponents of torture are, in my opinion, motivated solely by the evil desire to inflict pain on those they dislike. Advocates of torture are motivated by sadism, not patriotism.

John Kiriacou was a CIA interrogator who participated in waterboarding.  He believes that it was effective in obtaining good information and in saving lives.  He also (now) regards the technique as torture.

Watch a CNN interview with Kiriacou here:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/11/agent.tapes/index.html

[ Edited: 25 February 2009 10:38 AM by Bryan ]
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Posted: 25 February 2009 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Bryan,throughout these first years of the 21st century,when the issues of torture have begun to rear their heads,the sole justifying reason for torture advocacy is “the ticking bomb” scenario.That’s all they can come up with.The “ticking bomb"scenario can be construed rightfully in many different ways,and is just an allegorical way of describing a scenario in which an impending event is going to happen,and it can be prevented by the rendering of some soul who is “luckily” already in the custody of the torturers.
This is HOLLYWOOD GARBAGE!
The vast majority of torture commited throughout time is a simple way of indexing,collating,and extrapolating information from a series of “hostiles”.This information is then used to catalog enemy logistic capabilities,tactical information.
The other reason there are tortures and mistreatments of POW’s is to exert psychological influences.Attempts to change idealogical bents,or attempts to ascertain idealogical bents.
Of course on the fringes,torture has always been meted out for purely punitive measures as well.
Back to the “ticking bomb” scenario.This is the only rationalization that the members of our government are willing to weigh.They have largely weighed in already,and they don’t but it.It is the most unlikely,and fantastical situation in which a force would ever find itself in.It is using the already ingrained HOLLYWOOD MINDSET to advocate a system which is largely useless and repugnant.
It also doesn’t reflect well upon our own troops who are in harms way unfortunately.

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Posted: 25 February 2009 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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If the ticking time bomb is all I’ve got then why did I post about John Kiriacou?

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Posted: 26 February 2009 08:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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I don’t think waterboarding is torture. I don’t believe having someone sit in a 55 degree F. room with a never ending bright light is torture. I don’t believe that bombarding someone with really bad music is torture.

Sticking a bamboo shoot into someone’s eyeball is torture. Sticking a red-hot length of rebar up someone’s anus is torture. Hooking testicles up to a car battery with sewing needles is torture.

So you see, there is disagreement here with a lot of what others consider to be torture. However, I may change my mind about what constitutes torture or not in the future. Of course, in the future getting just water to drink instead of white wine may be considered torture…

It seems we are continuing to extend the definition of torture to include ‘discomfort’.

The sworn enemies of western culture are rolling on the floor with laughter over this parsing of the definition of ‘torture’.

The Taliban are noted, of course, for putting their prisoners up in the presidential suite before beheading them. Sweet guys.

And, hey, just to head off the incoming flames and rants, I’m not suggesting that we can do whatever our enemies do because they do it first. I’m trying to make a point about extending the definition of torture, and a further point that just because a country signs the Geneva Convention, it does not follow that it will abide by them. The last folks that treated US prisoners with any decency at all was Nazi Germany…go figure.

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Posted: 26 February 2009 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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omnibus09 - 26 February 2009 08:14 AM

However, I may change my mind about what constitutes torture or not in the future.

Perhaps experiencing waterboarding firsthand would change your mind.  wink

I find the topic of torture very complicated. I detest any form of violence, but were I in a position where torturing another person might result in saving lives of those I care for, I would probably do it.

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Posted: 26 February 2009 08:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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I don’t believe that experiencing waterboarding would change my mind…but it could. None of my rather opinionated views on torture are set into mental stone.

Experience is the best teacher, as always. And repeated waterboarding would grow very old very quickly, no doubt.

My main point is that the west seems to be extending the definition of torture so far that by not offering a prisoner mayo on his roast beef sandwich might be considered torture in the near future. I’m not claiming that I know where to draw a line in every case, but that the line is moving.

I’d crack quickly if I had to watch Brady Bunch reruns with my eyelids taped open…

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Posted: 26 February 2009 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Omnibus99, I don’t find your assertion that torture is impossible to define at all convincing. Here’s a definition that is serviceable for our context:

Torture: the deliberate infliction of pain on prisoners that goes well beyond any discomforts necessary to safely and securely incarcerate them.

You seem to prefer a definition requiring immediate physical agony. Such a definition is not consistent with what we know about the experience of pain.

Note that the definition I provide would include waterboarding and exclude the denial of mayo on a roast beef sandwhich. I presume then that it meets your requirements?

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Posted: 26 February 2009 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Small quibble, Chris—one might argue that waterboarding and faked executions are not “painful” in the standard sense of the term. What they are is terrifying, because they simulate death. Torture has to include methods that are deliberately terrifying.

It also has to include other methods of psychological warfare like enforced lack of sleep.

Rather than “pain” I think we need something more like “intense psychological distress”.

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Posted: 26 February 2009 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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I disagree with your definition as it relates to incarceration, and not directly to interrogation. I certainly may be very wrong in my assumptions about what is torture and what is not, but your proposed definition can be very subjective.

What is a ‘necessary discomfort’? The communists developed techniques that were called ‘brainwashing’ by some, ‘torture’ by others, and in my case, ‘training’ by the US military. The drill sergeant’s credo was ‘We can’t build you up until we break you down.” And break they did. Living in Gitmo would be like a vacation for those of us who had to endure that type of ‘training’...

Any sort of inflicted pain or humiliation just for the perverse sport of it, as was the case in Abu Graib prison, is out of line completely, as it does not concern an attempt to obtain vital military information. Having said that, one might ask John McCain if he would have preferred to be stipped naked in front of female guards, harrassed by dogs, etc. or strung up on a rafter with his arms pulled out of their sockets.

So I admit to some conflict in my views on ‘torture’ as an interrogation technique, but I agree that it should not be used in conjunction with mere incarceration.

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Posted: 26 February 2009 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Ah, yes, Doug—I am thinking in terms of the psychologist’s definition of pain, which automatically includes emotional factors. You’re right, many people unfamiliar with psychology would define pain solely in terms of physical injury. Let me explain.

Psychologists define pain in terms of the mental experience, not the physical situation. That mental experience is modulated by a great many factors. For example, an adult’s perception of pain (in contrast to a child’s) is strongly influenced by the perception of threat to life. A child who bumps his head feels pain and bawls loudly; the parent examines the injury and declares, “Why, you’re not hurt!” But in the child’s perception, he IS hurt—he feels pain. The adult experiencing the same physical injury would dismiss the physical pain as insignificant. The most extreme example of this effect is the soldier in an extremely dangerous situation who suffers a minor injury that removes him permanently from combat. The effect of the wound is the reverse of its appearance: the threat to the soldier’s life is reduced, and so the soldier feels elation, not pain. There were lots of terms for this in various armies: “million-dollar wound” was one. And soldiers with such wounds would often refuse morphine because they really did not feel any pain.

Conversely, this factor is what makes waterboarding so painful. The subject is made to believe that he will die, and so the minor discomfort created by the experience is magnified into agony.

By contrast, pain can be amplified by a variety of psychological factors. One of these is the sense of control over the situation. People who control the situation are able to handle far more pain than those in no control. There was one experiment back in the 60s where subjects were divided into two groups. The first group had electric shocks administered to them by a third party, and were told to report when the shock was painful. The second group was told to increase the voltage themselves until they found the experience painful. The second group endured far higher voltage levels before reporting pain. An extension on this experiment used involuntary pain, but in one group the electrodes were lightly taped to the subject, while in the other case, the electrodes were heavily armored, glued on, and wrapped in many thick layers of protective tape to make it clear that the subject would not be able to remove it if he panicked. Again, the latter group experienced pain at lower voltage levels.

This sense of control factor gains strength with time. That is, there is some sort of “despair factor”. People make bargains with themselves about managing pain. They can usually talk themselves into handling a certain amount of pain for some period of time, but as time wears on and the pain doesn’t go away, the sense of despair magnifies the experience of pain. For example, a person being whipped can get through it by promising himself that there is a specified number of lashes to be endured, beyond which the whipping will stop and they will be able to recover. By contrast, a person being kept in a cold room realizes that this can go on indefinitely, and the consequent sense of despair can make the experience more painful than the whipping.

All this is well known and in fact this knowledge is used by torturers to achieve higher levels of pain in their victims with less risk of incriminating injuries. It ultimately is based on a lie so obvious that I cannot understand why people don’t get it:

“We want to inflict maximum pain on our victim, yet we want the outside world to believe that we are not inflicting pain, so we will use these special techniques that inflict huge amounts of pain but can be dismissed by our apologists as not painful.”

That’s the striking thing about all this: if waterboarding doesn’t inflict pain, then why do we even bother doing it? What’s the point of waterboarding if it *doesn’t* inflict pain? The fact is, everybody knows perfectly well what’s going on here: we waterboard people in order to inflict pain, and then apologists like omnibus99 try to play semantic games to argue that we are not inflicting pain. It’s a lie.

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