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Apr 20 2013

Bush, Torture and Hypocrisy

One of the most damning aspects of the new report on torture put out by the Constitution Project is a comparison of what the Bush administration said about the techniques they authorized for use on detainees when those same things were done by other countries. From the report:

The State Department criticized Jordan in its 2006 Human Rights report for subjecting detainees to “forced standing in painful positions for prolonged periods.” In its 2000, 2001 and 2002 reports on Iran, “suspension for long periods in contorted positions” is described as torture. In its 2001 and 2002 Human Rights report on Sri Lanka, “suspension by the wrists or feet in contorted positions” and remaining in “unnatural positions for extended periods” are described as “methods of torture.”…

In the section entitled Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the 2003 – 2007 Bush State Department Human Rights report on Sri Lanka described “near-drowning” as “torture and abuse.” In its Human Rights Reports for Tunisia from 1996 to 2004, “submersion of the head in water” is deemed “torture.” In the 2005 and 2006 Human Rights Reports for Tunisia, this practice is considered “torture and abuse.”

When other countries do those things, it’s torture. When we do them, it’s not. Must be that “American exceptionalism” thing the right is so fond of.

43 comments

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  1. 1
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    In fairness, after being waterboarded (voluntarily) himself, Hitchens for one, changed his opinions and accepted that yes waterboarding was torture.

    As for USA exceptionalism, meh, reckon most nations are like that really.

    Human nature, not its best side but just that.

    Personally I hope they deny the surviving Boston bomber any pain relief when (if?) he does come round. No, that isn’t nice. But its a damn sight nicer than anyone that could do what he did is.

    Terrorists really are scum.

  2. 2
    slc1

    Re StevoR @ #1

    According to news reports, the miscreant is going to be severely questioned to determine of he and his brother were working for organized terrorist groups. They aren’t going to read himh is Miranda rights and techniques such as waterboarding will not be ruled out. It is fortunate (although not for him) that, unlike his brother, he didn’t commit suicide by cop but was taken alive. As they say, dead men tell no tales.

  3. 3
    mikmik

    I remember FireDogLake and the left blogosphere being all over this a decade ago. John Yoo,under the Attorney General John Ashcroft, authored the memos that were used to authorize the C.I.A,’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques in 2002.

  4. 4
    steffp

    Romans 12:20

  5. 5
    reverendrodney

    Terrorist, miscreant, scum, lowlife, whatever he is, the surviving bomber MUST be treated humanely. If We The People mistreat him, then we are no better than the terrorists miscreants scums and lowlifes known as the Grand Inquisition, and we are one step closer to becoming the Fourth Reich, genocide and all.

  6. 6
    dingojack

    Stevo – I hope they give him excellent care:
    a) To make him ashamed of his inhumane actions by showing him kindness (yet again) and pointing out this fact repeatedly whilst reinforcing the idea that this common decency is something he denied to his victims)
    b) To give him the best possible chance of survival to go to trial
    c) To ensure he receives a free an fair trail (and have it pointed out that’s something he denied his victims)
    d) IF FOUND GUILTY to be housed in prison until he comes out as a withered old corpse
    e) To put him through having the most exciting thing in his long dreary days is perhaps being prodded, poked and examined (so to speak) by the occasional psychologist, criminologist or psychiatrist
    f) To find out how and why this occurred, and how we can ensure barbarity that he and his brother were responsible for can become less likely in the future.
    Dingo

  7. 7
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ Dingojack : Oh I want him to survive and give evidence and spill the beans every bit as much as happened to Khalid Sheik Mohammad. and the Al Qaideans* who gave up vital evidence of bin Laden’s whereabouts under torture unwillingly helping SEAL team 6 do their excellent job.

    But given the agony and torment he has inflicted on so many, yes, I do want him to suffer as much as possible.

    a) If he’s not already ashamed of what he’s done, if he’s able to do what he did he’s a sociopath who never will be ashamed because he’s not got the sort of conscience you or I have.

    b) Yeah, I hope he lives long enough to give up every last thing thing he knows. After that, not so much. He should get the death penalty. I hope its long drawn out and agonising for him. It won’t undo the damage but damn he deserves that and far, far worse. Yes, that’s ugly but also human and I’m sur eI’m not alone in hoping that.

    c) The hell has this got to do with fair trails? Its evidently clear he’s guilty as fuck. Are you really *seriously* arguing he’s innocent?

    d) Well, the way the death penalty system USA works with the whole too many appeals and delays and shit I’m sure that’ll happen whether capital punishment is applied or not.

    e) Yeah that works for me too. For a while. Let’s chuck in a little more terror, suffering and dread tohim as well though. That sack of shit has caused enough to others already after all.

    f) Yeah we can do that too -and speed it up a bit by a post mortem brain autopsy.

    No sympathy for terrorists ever. Why would you have?

    ————————–
    * You do realise that ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ was based, in part, on CIA expert info don’t you?

  8. 8
    D. C. Sessions

    unlike his brother, he didn’t commit suicide by cop

    Not exactly. His brother was wounded, but the proximate cause of death is reported to be that he was run over by an SUV.

    Somehow the picture here isn’t of the point men for organized terror.

  9. 9
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @5. reverendrodney : Bullshit.

    See *we* didn’t even think of let alone plan and carry out any acts of terrorism like planting bombs at the Boston marathon finishing line. The Chechen Islamist sack of shit did. He’s guilty of being mass murderer (and maimer how many counts of grevious bodily harm?How many people’s lives wrecked?), we ain’t.

    Can you really, truly, not see the flippin’ difference here?

  10. 10
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @2. slc1

    Re StevoR @ #1 According to news reports, the miscreant is going to be severely questioned to determine of he and his brother were working for organized terrorist groups. They aren’t going to read himh is Miranda rights and techniques such as waterboarding will not be ruled out. It is fortunate (although not for him) that, unlike his brother, he didn’t commit suicide by cop but was taken alive. As they say, dead men tell no tales.

    Yep. Good. Agreed.

  11. 11
    Modusoperandi

    From what I understand, we’re showing him episodes of Two and a Half Men on a loop.

    We’ve truly become what we hate.

  12. 12
    reverendrodney

    I cannot believe that such enlightened people as on this blog would call for the suffering of a human being!

    You even invoke the bible!
    Romans 12:20 “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing THOU SHALT HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD.” Emphasis mine.

    Disgusting.

  13. 13
    slc1

    Re DC Sessions @ #8

    The physicians at the hospital where he was taken after his capture said that there was no indication of his being run over by a vehicle.

    http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/04/beth_israel_staff_tried_to_save_bombing_suspect

  14. 14
    slc1

    Re reverendrodney @ #12

    I agree with former Secretary of State George Shultz, Terrorists are not even people.

  15. 15
    jolly

    Stevor, you seem to be getting your info from a movie. John Brennan said under oath that we didn’t get the information about Bin Laden from torture. Torture only makes the torturers feel ‘good’, it isn’t for getting useful info. The correct way is to have a couple of folks treat him well, be friendly, be willing to listen, and then they talk. People will say anything you want under torture. If they torture him and ask if he planted the bombs because his mother believes in pink unicorns, then he will admit that is the reason. No useful information comes from torture. What you are talking about is revenge, not justice.

  16. 16
    Modusoperandi

    jolly “John Brennan said under oath that we didn’t get the information about Bin Laden from torture.”
    Ah, but he said the opposite under torture. Checkmate, human rights!

  17. 17
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @12. reverendrodney

    I cannot believe that such enlightened people as on this blog would call for the suffering of a human being! You even invoke the bible!
    Romans 12:20 “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing THOU SHALT HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD.” Emphasis mine. Disgusting.

    Wait, *who* has invoked the Bible here?

    Not me.

    You don’t believe folks here would call for humans to suffer? Gee, you haven’t read this blog much have you? I’ve read on FTB generally plenty of calls for Republican politicians and hate figures of the left to be made to suffer.

    The old dead porcupine up ya “joke” among others stands out plus a suggestion Newt Gingerich be sent one-way to our Sun no returns.

    C’mon, get real. We’re human and humans hurting and wanting to hurt other humans is just human nature. No one immune or holier than thou. Tellme witha straight face you’ve really, seriously, never wished another person ill. Go on I dare you.

    Oh but de poor widdle terrowist! Don’t let dem hurt the man who, well, y’know caused such massive agony and torment to so many innocent people who never even threatened or knew him! (/sarcasm in case that wasn’t obvious.)

    Fuck that.

    Fuck terrorists.

    Fuck the Chechen brothers, Fuck the Beslan schoolchild killers, Fuck Al Quaida, fuck Ham-aas, fuck Jemaah Islamiyya, fuck the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Fuck Shining Path, fuck Baader Meinhoff, fuck the taliban, fuck the Muslimbrotherhood, fuck the TamilTigers, fuck laskar e-toiba, fuck allfucking terroirsts everywhere.

    The terrorists are evil fucking murdering maiming scum who deserve nothing goodand certainly none of our sympathy or support ever.

    Are you going to seriously disagree with that?

    The fuck you too.

  18. 18
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    That final line of #17 is : Then fuck you too.

    *If* you ever support or sympathiese with or speak up for terrorist scum.

    Fuck terrorism, fuck terrorists, fuck the Jihad idiocy and fuck the fifth columnists who fail to stand up for the victims of the Jihadists and take the side of the perpetrators of atrocities over the side of the victims of those atrocities.

    Does that apply to you?

  19. 19
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @15. Jolly : Tell that to SEAL Team Six.

    They got Osama bin Laden.

    You didn’t.

    They – & the CIA interrogators who got them the information they needed – know.

    You don’t.

    (As already noted the movie Zero Dark Thirty was made based on CIA information coming from people who were actually there and did their jobs. And Bin laden isn’t threatening us or anyone else anymore because of it. So say thankyou and accept reality however not-pretty it may be.)

  20. 20
    reverendrodney

    StevoR… are you drunk or something? Going to anger management, hopefully? You certainly want to fuck a lot of people.

    Did I say YOU invoked the bible? I was referring to the group.

    How do you feel about the US Armed Forces and the CIA murdering and maiming people? Well, how DO you feel about that?

    Sure, I’ve had plenty of knee-jerk urges for revenge and I know how it can get out of hand. That’s why we need LAWS! Duh.

  21. 21
    dingojack

    Actually Stevo, real interrogators (you know actual experts in obtaining information from suspects) tell us that torture is only effective in obtaining false information, it’s mostly the chicken-hearted chicken-hawks who seem to love the whole torture vibe. Makes ‘em feel like their big tough men, I suppose. Plus the whole side-effect of encouraging further acts terror by radicalising the victim’s co-coreligionists/ co-idealist/ fellow-countrymen &etc. This eventually gives the chicken-hawks another fix to soothe their torture/ persecution/ revenge jones.
    Dingo

  22. 22
    Kengi

    Torture is a great way to confirm information from other sources. The problem is that it confirms false information just as readily as true information. It’s a great way to provide support for the torturer’s pet theory, but a horrible way to discover what is true or not.

    Torture is also good at proving we are no better than those we torture.

  23. 23
    samgardner

    Steve, I’d point out that the wish for him to have a fair trial and be treated in a humane fashion has NOTHING to do with sympathy for him, but rather with the type of society we wish to have. It’s not for him, it’s for us. I agree the kid is a twisted, evil fucker.

    I have no interest in seeing him suffer, personally. Put down like a dog, after providing as much info as possible, perhaps.

  24. 24
    kantalope

    StevoR would be a terrorist if he had the guts. But he does not, so he is instead a torturefanboi.

    How is it that KSM was at once mocking the torturers by counting down the time on being tortured and he spilled the beans at the same time? Anyone credible – and people who have the most to justify – them being torturers and all- say no good info came out of torturing anyone. Oh, but unnamed movie sources say the opposite!! Unnamed ghost hunting sources also give info to tv shows – it must be credible.

    Anyone who advocates torture is the same kinda person that advocates pipe bombs. Below contempt.

    oh and a free tip – advocating porcupining someone’s rectum: not real or credible – just silly
    advocating strapping someone to a board and partially drowning them: advocating actaul real torture

  25. 25
    caseloweraz

    Some of this is “left hand/right hand” business. If Rumsfeld & his deputies had taken the advice offered by the State Department before invading Iraq, things would have gone a lot better. (This is not to say I think invading Iraq was the right thing to do.)

    But there certainly was enough hypocrisy in the DoD at the time. In Lawless World, Phillipe Sands notes on page 173, “In April 2003, Donald Rumsfeld protested about the treatment of American prisoners of war, who had been filmed in the streets of Baghdad after their capture by Iraqi forces. He complained that Iraq was not complying with its obligations under Geneva Contention III, to protect prisoners from ‘public curiosity’. The media response was predictable.”

  26. 26
    caseloweraz

    Regarding the utility of torture, even Zero Dark 30 portrays the young prisoner as being more forthcoming when treated humanely.

  27. 27
    Johnny Vector

    Steveor, new rule: You are not allowed to talk about torture until you go back and read everything Ed has posted on it. The evidence is overwhelming that it does not work. Your cite of a hollywood blockbuster does not trump the statements of the actual people who got information from Gitmo detainees, including KSM. Every one of them agrees that torture was at best useless, and the people who got the information that led to Bin Laden are clear that the information stream dried up when torture was started.

    So go take your pill, or whatever you need to do to calm down, because you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  28. 28
    janiceintoronto

    But, but, it’s America!

    America is different!

  29. 29
    karmacat

    The world is so much easier to deal with when we have monsters. To think of certain people as “other.” The “terrorists” see Americans as monsters and other. We have to remember that we all have the potential to become monsters. “And if you gaze long enough in an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you”. Nietzsche

  30. 30
    jws1

    @29: Oh no, don’t quote Nietzsche! The knee-jerk liberals will shriek in terror!

    And StevoR: what kantaloupe and Johnny Vector said.

  31. 31
    composer99

    StevoR:

    In addition to the other points made by commenters in response to your torture advocacy, torture is the sort of thing where:
    (1) If you can do it for good reasons, sooner or later you will do it for bad reasons.
    (2) If you can do it to bad people, sooner or later you will do it to good people.

    So I think you can take your advocacy and cram it up your ass. And get off your high horse while you’re at it.

  32. 32
    slc1

    The consensus among the experts is that torture is best used for obtaining false confessions. For obtaining intelligence information, not so much.

  33. 33
    organon

    @ #16, as usual, hilarious. Well done.

  34. 34
    organon

    @ #12, I understand your reaction. But remember there are a very wide range of minds that follow various blogs. In the case of this one, the readership could easily include many who even disagree with most of the ideas expressed here. Some might be interested in atheism, yet not be very rational. Others might be christian and follow it for its support of Evolution, religious freedom, separation of church and state, and other areas of individual rights. And a whole range of others. Personally, I don’t care to read about atheism any more than I care to read about asantaclausism, aeasterbunnyism, atoothfairyism, or any other such subject. My view is show me the evidence for the existence of something, or shut the ____ up. And I’m not interested in attempts to prove the nonexistence of anything. I realize many have suffered much persecution for their lack of belief in the theism arena, and I understand that the topic matters to them largely because of the continued persecution. Just for myself, it does not draw me here. Ed’s keen and well reasoned mind. His knowledge and exploration of constitutional issues. Civil liberties. The individual rights of all, not just those who see the world as I do or share my orientation. Defense of science, including not allowing make believe to be taught as science. The humor. The exposing of a wide array of efforts by theocrats. Etc. There are even a number of readers whose comments I always look forward to. But that’s just one reader’s draw to being here. The range of others out there would probably differ radically. Including some conservatives who just happen to consider themself atheist. I’ve met some. And some are so entrenched in the party politics that they refuse to acknowledge what the party on the whole is attempting to do. Remember that each out there is an individual…and must be viewed as such. Some will tend to reason better than others. And sometimes there are certain hot button topics where individuals may tend to abandon reason in favor of views held strongly on a more emotional basis. Well, just some thoughts. For whatever they might be worth.

  35. 35
    organon

    #8

    “Somehow the picture here isn’t of the point men for organized terror”

    Exactly as it appears to me. I can’t imagine any terror group would want anything to do with this one. Although I shudder to think terrorists would think such amateurism could undermine their reputation as a group. But even wackos can think they have certain standards to uphold. Not every individual in the world is the model of mental health.

  36. 36
    democommie

    “it’s mostly the chicken-hearted chicken-hawks who seem to love the whole torture vibe. Makes ‘em feel like their big tough men, I suppose.”

    For a perfect example of what it looks like, please see the last ten minutes or so of the first “Starship Troopers” movie. The former Doogie Howser, M.D. is an excellent Xenopsychiatrist or whatever the fuck title he has.

    While I was looking for a link to a video of those few minutes (no luck) I came across this:

    http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/review-of-starship-troopers/

    So, fuckinwhaKKKjobs who call themselves libertarians are not limited in their distribution to the U.S.

  37. 37
    schmeer

    StevoR,
    You’re a contemptuous, vile human being. I see little difference between you and the terrorists. You want your government to torture others and only provide fair trials to the innocent. How exactly do you intend to determine who is innocent without a fair trial in every case? You don’t deserve the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, but I would argue in favor of affording you those protections because that’s what decent, civilized people do.

    According to classmates of the younger brother he was intelligent, a good friend and a leader on his wrestling team. I think we need to find out how a person like that came to the attrocious acts that he allegedly commited. If we seek revenge on him what will that do? We won’t be any closer to preventing the next terrorist attack.

  38. 38
    slc1

    Re Schmeer @ #37

    StevoR is Australian so the rights guaranteed by the US Constitution are not applicable to him.

  39. 39
    schmeer

    The Constitution can’t apply outside our borders, but if he ever comes here it should protect him. The text of the Constitution doesn’t specify that it only applies to Americans, and I think that most people who like what it says would want the same protections to be given to anyone no matter where they live.

  40. 40
    slc1

    Re schmeer @ #39

    Augment my statement @ #38 to say that the US Constitution is not applicable to him in Australia.

  41. 41
    fentex

    As citizens of a country that invades and conquers others and tortures people any of you who insist on the torturing or mistreatment of a prisoner are validating and requesting similar treatment for yourself and fellow citizens

    if one argues that this is what murder and torture deserves then as sponsors of such one argues one deserves it one self.

  42. 42
    kermit.

    Torture accomplishes several things:
    1. It gets a confession (whether actually guilty or not).
    2. It tells the torturer what he wants to hear (or, if that torturer or his bosses are smart, what he wants the public to hear.
    3. It maintains a aura of fear to help suppress the population.
    4. It hurts the victim, who annoyed the boss in some way.

    It doesn’t get information; the victim says what he thinks will stop the pain.

    I want to be a citizen in a country ruled by laws. And fair laws, not a deck stacked against gays or women or Muslims or whatever. Remember rights for all are rights for you. If you establish a precedent of torturing a prisoner because he’s a really bad guy, do you trust President Michelle Bachman or Santorum or Perry to use it appropriately?

  43. 43
    baal

    In WWII there was a notion that the US Constitution went where the US military did and it protections applied to non-citizens in US custody.

    @ SCL1″Terrorists are not even people.” Wrong. People are people full stop. The entire mindset of humans on one hand and sub-humans on the other never ends well. Worse, it sets up shifting groups of subhumans depending on who has the defacto or political power.

    Look, being decent toward horrible people isn’t about that horrible person. It’s about 31 composer and 42 kermit said. It’s also about the next incident.

    Let’s say you’re on a spree and kill 25 people. You’ve left the scene and need to decide what to do with your afternoon. You could fight the cops tooth and nail and spree some more or you could give up once the cops get close / surround you. It’s clear the Boston bombers chose the first option. When you deny even the chance to be arrested, tried and put in jail for life, your incentives are for the violent person to kill more innocents (cops at MIT, clerks at the 7/11, car owner etc). This is a big part of the reason why I’m not happy when the cops kill a perp. Offering them a small chance at living out their lives helps save the lives of other people.

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