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Sean Hannity: Still a Hypocritical Coward

Newshounds points out something I’d forgotten: Sean Hannity a few years ago said he would be waterboarded to prove it isn’t torture — for charity, of course. Keith Olbermann offered to give $1000 for every second he lasts. It’s been three and a half years since then and — surprise, surprise — Hannity has yet to do what he said he would do. I’m so terribly shocked, aren’t you?

Comments

  1. says

    Here’s news: it’s not even moral to torture Hannity. Got that?

    The whole reason we got into this horrible torture mess is because people allowed themselves to think “this person, whoever, is such a scumbag they deserve to be tortured! we’ll just relax the rules a little bit…” If I agree to allow myself to be tortured, the person who does it is still committing a crime.

  2. prtsimmons says

    Marcus: I don’t think it’s torture if the victim agrees to it. The torture techniques (sorry, ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’) used by US agents are effective because the victim does not have control – for example, using sleep deprivation or loud music to disturb the victim’s concentration, or forcing them to stand in an uncomfortable position for hours, or forcing someone to hold their breath underwater for two minutes. If these are done as interrogation techniques, they are unethical and unacceptable; if these things are done voluntarily, they aren’t torture (they could be done on a dare or as recreation or necessary to achieve some goal). If Hannity agrees to the waterboarding before hand, and can stop it at any time, I don’t think we have to worry about the moral implications of ‘torturing’ him. (I also don’t think it would be nearly as bad having it done to you involuntarily.)

  3. says

    There was some right-wing talk radio host called “ManCow” who also volunteered to be waterboarded. I think he lasted maybe 4 seconds. To his credit, he completely changed his mind about it and decided that it was indeed torture. It’s interesting that, as near as I can tell, not a single person who has undergone the procedure thinks it’s anything but torture, no matter what attitude they started out with.

    Ah, here it is:

    http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/archive/Mancow-Takes-on-Waterboarding-and-Loses.html

    He lasted just under 7 seconds.

  4. tbp1 says

    @4: And waterboarding, while it can cause permanent damage, doesn’t so intrinsically, like, say branding or flogging. I would agree with Marcus in a situation like that, it would be immoral even if the subject agreed to it, but that is not the case here.

  5. suttkus says

    I’m confused. I remembered watching one of the Fox News anchors getting “waterboarded” on television. They got a bunch of military types in, strapped him to a board, splashed him a little, then he got up and declared, “See? No torture!” Of course, if it was as easy as that, it wouldn’t really be an interrogation technique either. I remember my father gleefully declaring, “Yeah, I see! That’s hardly torture!” ugh.

  6. Mr Ed says

    Marcus Ranum hit the nail on the head if you need a crutch like dehumanizing a person or getting their permission then you know deep down it isn’t right. In many areas to get a teaser you have to get shot first maybe tortures should have to spend time experiencing their own techniques.

  7. Michael Heath says

    Let’s not forget that waterboarding on most of the detainees it was used on was one of the most benign forms of torture we used. Far worse was those simultaneously suffering from sleep deprivation, kept wet and shivering, in stress positions, and had their senses tortured – light, sound, etc. Along with some innocents suffering from all this and beatings which led to joint dislocations and even death.

    I just finished In the Garden of Beasts [my review], a look at the rise of German atrocities in 1933 and 1934 from the perspective of U.S. Ambassador William Dodd. The FDR White House was lobbied by some during that time to call out the abuse Germany was already suffering upon many people. The FDR White House determined it had insufficient moral authority to judge Germany given the fact U.S. southerners were repeatedly lynching black people while the blacks nationwide were also treated as something less than citizens.

    Far too often even liberals and other non-conservatives fail to fully appreciate the ripple effect certain policies can have. As we see now from the Obama Administration and our anti-torture treaty partners not prosecuting the Bush Administration for torture and even worse, the complete avoidance of climate change as a 2012 presidential campaign issue, analogous to the U.S. denying some combination of the existence and threat of Nazism based on what we knew in the early-1930s.

  8. says

    @Michael Heath

    Far too often even liberals and other non-conservatives fail to fully appreciate the ripple effect certain policies can have. As we see now from the Obama Administration and our anti-torture treaty partners not prosecuting the Bush Administration for torture and even worse, the complete avoidance of climate change as a 2012 presidential campaign issue, analogous to the U.S. denying some combination of the existence and threat of Nazism based on what we knew in the early-1930s.

    Excellent comment! I am going to steal this and use it as if I had said it.

  9. Captain Mike says

    And waterboarding, while it can cause permanent damage, doesn’t so intrinsically, like, say branding or flogging. I would agree with Marcus in a situation like that, it would be immoral even if the subject agreed to it, but that is not the case here. – tbp1

    Do yourself a favour and stay out of my basement.

    For the record, neither flogging nor branding causes permanent damage (with the exception of possible scarring). That shit heals. Branding is visually impressive while it’s happening, but tattooing is usually considered a better way of marking your stuff.

  10. Ben P says

    .Christopher Hitchens lasted 17 seconds.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LPubUCJv58

    Which I suspect is about 15 longer than I would.

    I probably wouldn’t last nearly that long either. Although I’m virtually certain that I’d go through with being waterboarded if I were getting paid $1000 a second, just for the sake of the money. I’d be scared shitless, but I could make myself do it.

  11. says

    Is it ethical to inflict what you know is going to be a great deal of distress on a person who cannot possibly know what they are agreeing to in advance?

    That’s the problem: if I’ve already been waterboarded then I suppose I could arguably offer informed consent, but since I haven’t (otherwise, what’d be the point?) I can’t. Therefore you’d have to be willing to inflict something that you know is horrible on me, which I cannot legitimately consent to. There’s also a catch-22 problem that I cannot be said to be “in my right mind” if I am consenting to torture. By definition!

    Another question is psychological damage versus physical damage. You might find this interesting:
    http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=448717
    The writer claims to have waterboarded himself.

    By the way, here’s another fun tidbit about ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ – guess who coined that term? You got it: our fun-loving friends at the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) AKA “Gestapo” All the Washington assholes who use the term to skip around the fact that it’s torture, are so self-godwinning it’s not even funny.

  12. says

    Here’s a question:
    If you’re a sadist and a consenting adult tells you they’ve already been waterboarded, and want to be waterboarded again, who should get an appointment with a psychologist:
    a) you
    b) them
    c) both of you
    d) all of us

  13. says

    If your friend asks you to waterboard them, before you do, consult an attorney:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2340A

    (a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
    (b) Jurisdiction.— There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—
    (1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
    (2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
    (c) Conspiracy.— A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

  14. says

    Hannity even said that he would do it to raise money for charity–for the troops, he said.

    So the pertinent question to ask is “Why do you hate our troops, Mr. Hannity?”

  15. says

    suttkus “I remembered watching one of the Fox News anchors getting ‘waterboarded’” on television. They got a bunch of military types in, strapped him to a board, splashed him a little, then he got up and declared, ‘See? No torture!’” Of course, if it was as easy as that, it wouldn’t really be an interrogation technique either. I remember my father gleefully declaring, ‘Yeah, I see! That’s hardly torture!’” ugh.”
    Yeah! Those Muslin Alqaders are wusses! U S A! U S A!

  16. lofgren says

    It seems to me that Hannity has access to at least as much information as anybody consenting to a tattoo or medical procedure or joining the army. He has access to videos, graphic descriptions of the experience, and its physiological and emotional effects. The standard that a person must have gone through an experience before in order to consent to it is absurd.

  17. Ben P says

    The standard that a person must have gone through an experience before in order to consent to it is absurd.

    I agree. I think informed consent is appropriate, but informed consent consists of something not unlike the warnings doctors give you before a major medical procedure.

    “look, we’re going to strap you down on a board, place you with your head below your feet, put a cloth over your face and pour water on it, water is going to go down your nose and throat and you WILL feel like you’re drowning. You will likely panic and there’s some risk you could have nightmares or develop PTSD from this. There’s a small chance of serious medical complications, possibly up to and including death.”

  18. bmiller says

    I got stuck with Fox blaring away at me in the gym. Even with the sound turned off, this is a bizarre and creepy world view, full of dark nefarious doings by “Obama” and “liberals”. Now I certainly believe there are dark, nefarious doings going on, but the people doing them OWN the media so….not important.

  19. Chiroptera says

    What would really be realistic is if they’d make him disclose the location of a made up “ticking bomb.”

  20. F says

    For the record, neither flogging nor branding causes permanent damage (with the exception of possible scarring). That shit heals.

    Honk! Wrong.

  21. says

    The standard that a person must have gone through an experience before in order to consent to it is absurd.

    It’s not an “experience” it’s a “federal crime” – that makes it a particularly complicated kind of experience.

  22. Artor says

    @ MarcusRanum

    Most people would consider it torture to have a needle jabbed under your skin over large areas, injecting foreign substances that leave permanent marks. But some people pay good money to have that done all over their bodies. It hurts alot! Why would someone do that voluntarily? Is it still torture if the “victim” insists on it?

    There’s lots of things that you personally would never want done to you. Some of those things could be considered torture. But other people want different things, and some people happily do some extreme body modification, S&M, bondage, etc. But they use safewords, and they make a very clear line that simulated torture is not real torture. I’m sure it’s not your thing, but to insist that an act is always torture, even if someone requests it, is indefensible.

  23. Artor says

    TRIGGER ALERT: EXPLICIT DESCRIPTION

    I went to a fetish club for a Halloween party last year and witnessed a suspension. For those of you who don’t know what this is; I saw a guy voluntarily have a dozen hooks dug into his skin and linked to a chain. He was then hoisted into the air, dangling from the bloody hooks. He was not a small guy, close to 200 lbs, so those hooks were not gentle. After swinging freely for a full minute, his other friend, also near 200 lbs, grabbed his legs and monkey-hugged him. Two men, completely free of the ground, hanging only by the hooks into one guy’s back. Completely voluntary. Really.

    If anyone did this without consent, it would absolutely be heinous torture. I’d say it’s at least equivalent to waterboarding; probably quite a bit more extreme. But the consent is the important feature. With informed consent, it’s not torture, so it’s not a crime. Freaky maybe, but not criminal.

  24. abb3w says

    @5, Area Man:

    It’s interesting that, as near as I can tell, not a single person who has undergone the procedure thinks it’s anything but torture, no matter what attitude they started out with.

    I encountered one USMC dude on Fark who indicated he’d undergone it as part of SERE or similar training, and who nonetheless argued it wasn’t torture. He was eventually (over several months) talked into believing that it was bad policy for the US to be doing it, but I’m not sure he was ever talked into believing waterboarding constituted torture.

    That’s an outlier in the trend, though.

  25. Ben P says

    It’s not an “experience” it’s a “federal crime” – that makes it a particularly complicated kind of experience.

    Assaulting and battering a federal officer is also a federal offense. Yet last week I almost succeeded in choking out an FBI agent in judo practice. I’m quite sure I’m not going to be arrested for it.

  26. mikeyb says

    Listening to Hannity and his gutless whiny repetitive nauseating nasally tirades is as challenging for your brain as are Deepak Chopra on quantum healing. If we ever need to become an Idiocracy, that’ll do the trick.

  27. says

    “I encountered one USMC dude on Fark who indicated he’d undergone it as part of SERE or similar training, and who nonetheless argued it wasn’t torture.”

    Without getting into the “torture v voluntary experience” thing I have this thought. When the marine was undergoing training it was undoubtedly, and deliberately, stressful. It was also something that he had every reason to believe would be terminated if it was seen to be dangerous. Unlawful detainees or whatevertf they’re being called this year do not have that expectation.

    Sean Hannity is a piece of shit with a soapbox.

  28. Captain Mike says

    For the record, neither flogging nor branding causes permanent damage (with the exception of possible scarring). That shit heals. – me

    Honk! Wrong. – F

    Sorry, but that shit does heal. I’ve flogged a few people over the years and I know a couple of people who have been branded. None of them have any permanent damage.

  29. Ben P says

    Sorry, but that shit does heal. I’ve flogged a few people over the years and I know a couple of people who have been branded. None of them have any permanent damage.

    This is nitpicking I suppose, but scarring IS permanent damage.

    When I was young drunk and stupid in college I burned a smiley face into my arm with a lighter, and I still have a small smiley face shaped scar. It didn’t cause muscle damage because it’s only skin deep, but scarring is still a form of permanent damage. Had, for example, someone held me down and involuntarily burned me, I’d view the scar in a different light.

    As for flogging, never even thought about that, but I would strongly imagine that if someone is voluntarily having it done to them, it is not of the magnitude that would cause lasting injuries. However, it absolutely can do so. There’s anecdotal evidence of punishment floggings killing people, and there’s the graphic picture of a whipped slave

  30. Captain Mike says

    Even scars tend to fade over time. I had some burn scars in childhood that seem to have completely disappeared.

    I’m not trying to argue that you can’t whip people right to death, or burn them so badly it does permanent damage to muscles or nerves. You absolutely can. I’m saying that tbp1′s claim that branding and flogging intrinsically cause permanent damage is false.

  31. bradleybetts says

    @Marcus Ranam

    “If I agree to allow myself to be tortured, the person who does it is still committing a crime.”

    By that logic any “top” taking part in consensual sadomasochistic sex scenarios is committing a crime. I think any sensible definition of torture has to include the caveat that any pain or humiliation inflicted is against the will of the “torturee” (for want of a better word. I’d have used “victim”, but again that only really applies if it is against their will).

    And since we’re on the ethical minefield which is torture, I’ll throw in my two pence. I do think that, under very specific circumstances, it could be morally permissible. To use a tired old cliche of a hypothetical; let’s say someone has planted a bomb, you’ve caught them but they’re not telling where it is. If the bomb is allowed to go off, thousands die. Under those circumstances, is it morally permissable to torture the information out of them?

    Under those circumstances I would have to go with the rather utilitarian conclusion that it is worth injuring one person in order to save thousands of lives. It is a distasteful conclusion, but one that under those extreme circumstances I feel is the only sensible conclusion to reach. I might even go so far as to say that allowing thousands to die through inaction is more unethical than it is to torture the bomber.

    Of course none of this changes the fact that Hannity is still a hyppocrite. While I may concede that it is permissible under very extreme, very specific circumstances, I would never make the ludicrous claim that waterboarding wasn’t torture.

  32. scienceavenger says

    Hannity is not a real person, not what you see on television anyway. He’s playing a character, same as Colbert, he just doesn’t let his audience in on the act. Ditto for most of the people appearing on Fox. It’s pretend news for people with a pretend worldview.

  33. Reginald Selkirk says

    Marcus Ranum #13: That’s the problem: if I’ve already been waterboarded then I suppose I could arguably offer informed consent, but since I haven’t (otherwise, what’d be the point?) I can’t…

    If we waterboard you, we can make you give informed consent.

  34. says

    Assaulting and battering a federal officer is also a federal offense. Yet last week I almost succeeded in choking out an FBI agent in judo practice. I’m quite sure I’m not going to be arrested for it.

    Yeah, so how does that work? What if the cop’s a sore loser next time?

  35. Ben P says

    Yeah, so how does that work? What if the cop’s a sore loser next time?

    Consent is trickier in criminal situations than it is in civil situations, but consent in one form or another is a valid defense to a wide range of criminal charges.

    If I borrow your car and then you change your mind and I’m charged with stealing it, it’s a defense for me to say “you told me I could borrow it!”

    Likewise, if you and I get into a boxing match, you’ve either explicitly or implicitly consented to being hit, at least within the rules of the game. If you were to change your mind later and go to the place and say “so and so beat the hell out of me” I’d have a strong defense if I were to be charged.

    Where it gets tricky is that the state can also prohibit certain conduct regardless of consent or refusal of a complaining witness to testify. For example, in my brief stint in a prosecutor’s office we routinely filed charges of domestic violence despite the fact that the “complaining witness” had in the intervening time recanted her statement and told us not to. Our form answer in that situation is that criminal charges are the state’s perogative and we can choose to press them or drop them with or without her consent.

    Murder is the same thing sort of, although not universally. For example, if I’m in a boxing match and in a freak accident, I hit the other boxer in such a way that he dies, I’m probably still have a good defense.

    On the other hand, suppose you want to die and convince me to shoot you. Whether or not that merits a charge of murder is an interesting criminal question.

  36. dingojack says

    BenP – ‘On the other hand, suppose you want to die [because you have a terminal illness and are suffering a level of agony that no amount of painkillers can alleviate] and [you] convince me to shoot you [up with a lethal dose of painkillers]. Whether or not that merits a charge of murder is an interesting criminal question’.

    Is that what you were kinda thinking of?

    Dingo

  37. Ben P says

    Is that what you were kinda thinking of?

    Yes and no.

    I deliberately kept a shooting example because it’s a direct act rather than a more passive act of giving someone drugs with which they end their own life.

    Jack Kevorkian is singlehandedly responsible for numerous states passing special statutes that say assisting someone in committing suicide is a separate crime, in and of itself, usually akin to manslaughter or second degree murder.

    And Kevorkian illustrates the difficulties rather nicely. The state of Michigan tried to stick Kevorkian with murder charges four times between 1993 and 1997. That resulted in three jury acquittals and a mistrial. Key to his defense in each case was present facts that he only legally provided drugs to individuals who then performed the act themselves.

    In 1998 Kevorkian was dumb enough to let someone videotape an assisted suicide where he directly administered the drugs. He was charged with second degree murder and convicted. He served 8 years in prison for that.

  38. says

    To use a tired old cliche of a hypothetical; let’s say someone has planted a bomb, you’ve caught them but they’re not telling where it is. If the bomb is allowed to go off, thousands die. Under those circumstances, is it morally permissable to torture the information out of them?

    Under those circumstances I would have to go with the rather utilitarian conclusion that it is worth injuring one person in order to save thousands of lives. It is a distasteful conclusion, but one that under those extreme circumstances I feel is the only sensible conclusion to reach. I might even go so far as to say that allowing thousands to die through inaction is more unethical than it is to torture the bomber.

    I’m facepalming right now. Until now, every time I’ve seen that tired old cliche, it was to deconstruct it and why it’s absurdly unrealistic. It only reduces to that utilitarian calculation if you accept the false premise that torture works they way interrogators wish it did. Torture is ineffective in general, but this hypothetical minimizes any chance of effectiveness.

    1. The bomber has a strong motivation to endure the torture, and if he’s got a strong fortitude, he might be able to grit his teeth and remain silent long enough for the bomb to go off.

    2. If he doesn’t have a strong fortitude, he can still tell plausible lies to stop/delay/interrupt the torture, which also buys time while the bomb squad moves to a false location.

    3. If the torturer is aware the terrorist might be lying, how can he tell which bomb location the terrorist says is true, and how does he know if the true location is among the choices given? Torture doesn’t get people to tell the truth when they’re broken, it gets people to tell the torturer what he wants to hear in hopes of stopping them.

    4. What if it’s a case of mistaken identity, and the person you captured is an innocent in the wrong place at the wrong time who just happens to look a lot like the terrorist you’re after? You’d be torturing an innocent person for information he doesn’t have. In such a case, the torturer is unlikely to believe his claims of innocence, and to stop the torture, the innocent is highly motivated to lie.

    #1 is the best case scenario, and in it, the torture served no purpose except to waste time that could have been spent using more effective conventional interrogation techniques. The three others are a bigger waste in that they increase confusion and waste more than just the interrogator’s time. #4 is the worst, and I doubt it’d be as unlikely as some people would expect.

  39. Chiroptera says

    Bronze Dog, #42:

    We also already have a mechanism to take care of the situtation that, just in case, perhaps just maybe, we really do live in a comic book and this “ticking bomb” scenario actually does happen in real life. Namely, the fact that our judicial system is run by real people.

    If some interrogator had to rely on torture and really did happen to elicit information that indisputably saved “thousands of lives,” what prosecutor is going to touch that case? What jury is going to convict? What executive won’t make use of her powers of clemency?

    We don’t have to riddle the law with loop holes that the scum can take advantage of just so that we can allow for the highly improbably and ridiculous scenarios that our fevered minds can conjure.

  40. Chiroptera says

    bradleybetts, #34: …I would have to go with the rather utilitarian conclusion….

    Well, that may be convincing for you. But, me, my ethics aren’t based on utilitarianism, so I’m not going to be swayed by a utilitarian argument alone.

  41. Ben P says

    Re: Ticking Bombs

    Dick Wolf (the creator of law and order) uses a different scenario. There’s several different episodes where the police catch a kidnapper/child abuser, but don’t know the location of the child. Then the drama centers on how the police react to the kidnapper blowing them off about the location of the child.

    Mull that scenario over for a moment.

  42. Chiroptera says

    Ben P, #45: Mull that scenario over for a moment.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but if a fictional scenario involving thousands of victims doesn’t persuade me, then I’m not going to be persuaded by a fictional scenario involving just a single child.

    Unless that fictional child is portrayed sympathetically by a cute-as-a-button child actor.

  43. lofgren says

    Dick Wolf (the creator of law and order) uses a different scenario. There’s several different episodes where the police catch a kidnapper/child abuser, but don’t know the location of the child. Then the drama centers on how the police react to the kidnapper blowing them off about the location of the child.

    If we’re going to lend credence to fictional scenarios created in order to serve a formula drama, it’s worth noting that such situations are rarely resolved through torture. I can think of several plots that bare a resemblance to this, in a few different shows:

    1. In at least one episode of Law and Order, a kidnapper refuses to disclose the location of a victim unless he is given a plea bargain. McCoy does not quite laugh directly in his face. Instead he offers the perp a sweetheart deal. The defense attorney advises his client not to take the deal, but then refuses to participate further (or even read the offer) as he believes doing so would be participating in the crime. The kidnapper signs the deal anyway and reveals the child’s location. Then McCoy goes straight to the judge and argues that the deal is invalid since it was extracted by means of duress. A deal agreed to by the people while being held hostage cannot be considered binding. The judge agrees and invalidates the deal.

    2. In another story, the killer is a power-driven sociopath who has no intention of revealing the victim’s location because he enjoys the feeling of dominance he has over the police. The police make a big show of pleading and begging and generally debasing themselves, and of course the killer eats up every minute. After the victim has certainly run out of air, they praise the perp’s brilliance and profess total awe of his ability. The killer gloatingly reveals the victims location, only to be told that all of the clocks in the station have been set forward two hours and the victim has plenty of time left.

    3. In an episode of SVU, the solution is good old-fashioned police work. While the killer taunts them, they use what facts they can glean by keeping him talking in order to narrow down the search area based on his movements the previous day, then they organize a massive manhunt.

    4. In at least two other episodes of SVU, Mariska Hargitay locates a dying victim by means of her special Mariska-sense, a specialized form of ESP that alerts her if a child has been buried alive within a block of her current location.

    But if we’re going to talk about such plotlines, we really ought to include a discussion of Homicide: Life on the Street, one of the best police procedural dramas on television. In one episode, Pembleton uses “conventional” interrogation techniques such as establishing a rapport, reframing the situation as a perfectly understandable error in judgement, and humanizing the victim to get a suspect in another crime to confess to a murder that everybody in the room knows he didn’t commit, just to prove that he can. That type of scenario is far more common in real life than any of the above.

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