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  • "I sorta hope you don't... 'cause I really wanna torture you"

    Saw a story today that says that on Sunday (under cover fire from the SuperBowl), the Obama administration announced that it will continue the Bush program of "extraordinary rendition" -- transferring detainees to foreign custody where certain practices are permitted that are not otherwise permitted in the US. Namely, torture. Not just waterboarding, but Faith's five basic forms of torture -- hot, cold, blunt, sharp, and loud.

    I know that this program earned the US a lot of heat, it's one of the things that's often billed as reducing our standing in the world. I know that a lot of folks outside the US were very enthusiastic about Obama precisely because he took a definite stand that such things wouldn't happen with him, that it was a Bush thing that needed to be corrected.

    And he's keeping it. So, I have to ask... does this reflect more on the man, or on the country? Is this type of program justifiable under any circumstance? Jack Bauer always wrong, or ever right?

    Here's the story, by the way --

    Obama continues rendition policy
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  • #2
    And he's keeping it. So, I have to ask... does this reflect more on the man, or on the country? Is this type of program justifiable under any circumstance? Jack Bauer always wrong, or ever right?
    Given that it was Clinton's policy initially, it seems to be a country thing rather than an Obama or Bush thing. Though Bush expanded the CIA's powers dramatically, so that reflects on him - but also the mood of the country post-9/11, and the way in which the political landscape changed.

    Obama's continuation of the policy is not good news. Rendition does not equal condoning torture in any simple sense, but it can and has done. It's also a violation of civil liberties. Kidnapping by the state? Surely scary by any measure, however into "big government" one is

    There have been arguments in favour of rendition - that it's possible to interrogate people on home turf in a way that's more persuasive, especially if you can get their family involved. IE it's not all about the torture. However, it's still a practice I find terrifying, and worrying that Obama is continuing it.

    Torture is never justified, imo, and seems unlikely that it's effective in any case. Hypothetical examples in which torturing one person saves the lives of thousands are all very well, but those aren't the majority of cases - if they ever happen. Surely you can't know that torturing someone is justified until you've done it? By which time, you may have been proved wrong.

    Obviously, secret services do all kinds of things that most people would baulk at. I'm sure some of it's effective. But that doesn't mean it's right. Sometimes, you have to give up some freedom, some "goodness", for the sake of safety. It just depends how safe you want to be versus how good. There's also the question of "whose safety?" The people who are being tortured aren't exactly being granted safety!

    In an ideal world, I wouldn't even want to put anyone in prison - I don't believe in punishment, per se, I don't believe in an eye for an eye. But I'd rather put people in prison - through proper trials, with rights to appeal and wayts to prevent the miscarriage of justice etc - than put the population in danger on a daily basis.

    Terrorist attacks... well, I suppose I don't know how many of those are foiled and by what methods, so I can't tell which immoral methods (detention without trial etc) are effective, and how worth it it is in terms of the cost in human rights and dignity. If an innocent person is taken and tortured on a mistaken tip that it might prevent an attack, that's a terrible misuse of government power.

    I'd like to know more about what Obama's plans for rendition policies are, and which countries he's likely to send people to. If he's sending people to countries where torture is a common practice, then that's reprehensible. Or, to quote faith again: "You can't do that. It's wrong." (though I'm not saying it in Faith's sarcastic voice).


    -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --

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    • #3
      I think America should do its own dirty work, on its own turf, and not give American people the option of looking the other way, or pretending that these stories are just media lies.

      I think Government torture operations should be carried out on live television in the United States so that you have to look at it yourselves and listen to the screams of your victims, and then tell each other that this is OK and only pinko liberal nancy boys could possibly object.

      I believe that capital punishment should also be carried out in public for the same reason--as it was in England until about 1860.

      I think Jack Bauer is a sort of sado-erotic fantasy for infantile bully boys boys who are not tough enough to get away with it in reality.

      By the way ,torture is ineffective, and that is the reason it was dying out as a practice in civilized countries--until recently. No great power, past or present, has entirely clean hands. However I thought Obama was going to make a difference. I was wrong, though I believe Hillary would have had the strength of character to stop the evil.

      Where torture is practiced it is not the unhappy means to a necessary end. It is the end. Terrorism, which has never been defeated by torture, is the pretext. You see the means we choose represent our true ends because they reveal our true character.

      I very strongly recommend Gillo Pontecorvo's film "The Battle of Algiers" which won many awards in the 1960s and was banned in France for 30 years. It says everything that needs to be said and is not at all sentimental about the Algerian nationalists. It does not need to be. It is a humane and tragic classic which should be a part of everybody's moral education.

      By the way, and as a footnote, I live in a country which has lost more people to terrorism than the US. Living and working in London I was within earshot of three IRA explosions and on one occasion saw some of the walking wounded. I do not live on Cloud Nine.

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      • #4
        I think Jack Bauer is a sort of sado-erotic fantasy for infantile bully boys boys who are not tough enough to get away with it in reality.
        Word. Though, I still like watching it. Just? don't want people to ever think Jack Bauer is a role model.

        However I thought Obama was going to make a difference. I was wrong, though I believe Hillary would have had the strength of character to stop the evil.
        I wonder what Hilary would do?. It's one of those endlessly fascinating (because I'm a nerd) alternative history type questions. Those points at which history splits and the road untraveled often looks more appealing, though it probably wouldn't have been any better I reckon ? though perhaps people wouldn't have had such unrealistically high expectations of Clinton, since there wasn't that fan-worship going on for her so much?

        I was for Clinton originally, though I have to admit, that was on rather sexist grounds? I wanted a woman President, dammit! Though I appreciated Obama's anti-Iraq stance, on the whole I didn't feel there were massive policy divisions between them, and it became (for me) more of a symbolic choice ? what people have projected onto them.

        My hope is that Obama's just changing things softly softly ? Guantanamo first, then the rest. But it's not necessarily a powerful hope. His bipartisan approach to staffing might not be a signal of willingness to co-operate, but a sign that he's more authoritarian than I'd hoped, and that he believes in some of the things the Bush administration were doing?

        I'm prepared to give him a bit of slack, given how screwed up the economy is, but still, I would like to see some improvements in terms of civil/human rights. Though not holding my breath on the whole civil partnership thing?boo.

        This is a bit OT but wanted to follow it up?
        Spoiler:


        By the way, and as a footnote, I live in a country which has lost more people to terrorism than the US. Living and working in London I was within earshot of three IRA explosions and on one occasion saw some of the walking wounded. I do not live on Cloud Nine.
        Perhaps we're too used to terrorism? I do wonder sometimes if, living in London, I'm a bit too la di dah about it. But, then again, there are many threats in the world, and I'm pretty sure I'm more likely to break my neck on an icy pavement (sort it out, Boris!) than get blown up on the tube. One of the fronts in the "war" on terrorism must surely be trying not to be afraid, and not giving them what they desire, terror.

        Mind you, not being afraid is probably easier when we haven't had a terrorist attack for a couple of years than it would be if you were living in the wake of something more recent eg the events in Mumbai. The tube bombings were pretty easy to get over, as a city, since they left no scars on the landscape, and they weren't on that large a scale in terms of casualties ? though larger than IRA bombs ever really went for.


        -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --

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        • #5
          Yet again, I seem to be the only one for the use of an "inhumane" practice.

          Whether or not it is condoned...whether or not it is conducted by the CIA, FBI, or some other 3 initial organization, torture will and has always happened. I believe torture is necessary in some situations and it can be an effective method of interrogation. Do you really think some of those suspected terrorists are going to give up any information just by detaining them? We give them a bed, food and a roof over their head and they are just going to give us useful information? Torture works and I have no problem with the government using it on detainees to get information that could save lives or locate other terrorists that need to be stopped.

          In fact, I think torture should be used on some prisoners to find out where bodies and other victims are. Why should we make bargains and deals with convicted killers to find out where they dumped bodies or where their alive victims are?

          Yes I know this sounds like I have no soul and no respect for human life. I have the utmost respect for most human life...just not all of it. Humans that blow up buildings, crash airplanes, rape women, kill people, and do horrible unspeakable to the rest of humanity do not deserve my respect. They do not deserve to be treated humanly.

          As for who this situation reflects on the most. I am surprised that Obama is allowing it to continue though. He doesn't seem like the type to allow that happen. I think this policy reflects on the country alot. Many will think badly of the United States for treating detainess like that. Other countries might just stop and think for a moment before messing with us.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Michael View Post
            By the way ,torture is ineffective, and that is the reason it was dying out as a practice in civilized countries--until recently. No great power, past or present, has entirely clean hands. However I thought Obama was going to make a difference. I was wrong, though I believe Hillary would have had the strength of character to stop the evil.
            Maybe yes, maybe no -- false confession is possible, but it's not universal or even more often than not. I'm curious how you connect the real to the fictional in this context. In the "Angel" episode "Release", Faith tries to get information from a junkie by punching her and fails, after which Wesley succeeds by shoving a knife into her shoulder and keeping it there. I think most would agree that this scene has a certain verisimilitude. Does that scene invalidate itself for you as being unrealistic?

            With all due respect, anybody that went to the polls expecting "hope" or "change" of that scale was buying the Brooklyn Bridge. And Hillary was even less likely to change it -- you attribute greater strength of character to her in general, but what makes you think she has this as a conviction? The mere fact that she might have said so (did she?)? You do know her last name.

            Where torture is practiced it is not the unhappy means to a necessary end. It is the end. Terrorism, which has never been defeated by torture, is the pretext. You see the means we choose represent our true ends because they reveal our true character.
            I think this is completely unreasonable -- if someone kidnapped your wife and you had them in front of you wanting information, would you consider anything you did to find out where she is an end unto itself, or an unhappy means to a necessary end? I don't think it's any different for a soldier or intelligence officer forced into the situation of ripping information about the missing troops or the bomb hidding in a school out of a terrorist.

            Originally posted by Wolfie Gilmore View Post
            My hope is that Obama's just changing things softly softly ? Guantanamo first, then the rest. But it's not necessarily a powerful hope. His bipartisan approach to staffing might not be a signal of willingness to co-operate, but a sign that he's more authoritarian than I'd hoped, and that he believes in some of the things the Bush administration were doing?
            What he's already finding with Guantanamo is that, since the reality is that the guys there are emphatically *not* just misunderstood and falsely accused liberal arts students, nobody on the US mainland *wants* them. None of the countries in Europe want them, none of their own countries want them. Nancy Pelosi already blew off a proposal to restore Alcatraz to a prison because she doesn't want them in her district either.

            This is a bit OT but wanted to follow it up?
            Spoiler:




            Perhaps we're too used to terrorism? I do wonder sometimes if, living in London, I'm a bit too la di dah about it. But, then again, there are many threats in the world, and I'm pretty sure I'm more likely to break my neck on an icy pavement (sort it out, Boris!) than get blown up on the tube. One of the fronts in the "war" on terrorism must surely be trying not to be afraid, and not giving them what they desire, terror.

            Mind you, not being afraid is probably easier when we haven't had a terrorist attack for a couple of years than it would be if you were living in the wake of something more recent eg the events in Mumbai. The tube bombings were pretty easy to get over, as a city, since they left no scars on the landscape, and they weren't on that large a scale in terms of casualties ? though larger than IRA bombs ever really went for.
            It's not really off topic. I do think people are too blase about it. That's not to say stay at home and hide, but rather all western nations need to rid themselves of the impulse to pretend it's a completely imaginary threat. The reason the Tube bombings weren't more deadly is that they were to some degree a failure. Were they successful to what they were planned to be, hundreds probably would have died. The reason that they are larger is that, unlike IRA bombs that were basically directed at specific targets, the Jihadist bomb is directed only at mass fatalities.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
              Maybe yes, maybe no -- false confession is possible, but it's not universal or even more often than not.
              Mind you, one defence I've read of rendition policies is that the CIA *aren't* sending these people off to be tortured, *because* they don't think torture works. They are actually (according to the defender in question, think it was in the New York Times, but will have to look it up again) sending them to their home countries where other emotional pressures can be applied (talking to them with their families/kids present etc, or in a cultural context that's not ostensibly hostile to them).



              What he's already finding with Guantanamo is that, since the reality is that the guys there are emphatically *not* just misunderstood and falsely accused liberal arts students, nobody on the US mainland *wants* them. None of the countries in Europe want them, none of their own countries want them. Nancy Pelosi already blew off a proposal to restore Alcatraz to a prison because she doesn't want them in her district either.
              That is a practical problem to be solved. But not one that should get in the way.

              Hey, didn't Portugal offer to take them? Mind you, that was possibly before they thought it was really going to happen so maybe don't wanna put their money where their mouth is


              It's not really off topic.
              Right, good, will go on with it then

              I do think people are too blase about it. That's not to say stay at home and hide, but rather all western nations need to rid themselves of the impulse to pretend it's a completely imaginary threat. The reason the Tube bombings weren't more deadly is that they were to some degree a failure. Were they successful to what they were planned to be, hundreds probably would have died. The reason that they are larger is that, unlike IRA bombs that were basically directed at specific targets, the Jihadist bomb is directed only at mass fatalities.
              I think that our experiences with the IRA do make us feel safer, since they were always more specific/on a smaller scale. I think it's important to see terrorism as exactly the level of threat it really is. Whatever that is. So, gathering accurate intelligence is key, and exploring as many options to fight it. Especially in terms of ealing with its sources - indoctrination, jihadist religious figures etc. So, I'd encourage (alongside all the usual intelligence routes for dealing with the symptoms of the problem) attempts to deradicalise wherever possible.

              For example, the Home Office has a counter-terrorist project that's focused on deradicalisation in Britain. Though the same needs to be done all over the world, wherever these terror memes are spawned. (Can't think of a better word than meme at the moment). Eg Pakistan. (Read a great article the other day about counter-terrorism/intelligence in Pakistan...gave me an idea for a tv show that I must follow up )


              -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --

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              • #8
                You need reliable intelligence to counter terrorism and you do not get it by torture. Bribery is much more reliable, when used in a subtle and intelligent way. Torture was favored by Nazi and Stalinist regimes, and it did not save them. In Argentina and Chile the torturers regimes have fallen and their names are mud in the sewer of history.

                Torture always corrupts the people involved in it. Let us be clear. In a current case regarding a British subject due to be released from Guantanamo Bay we are not talking about waterboarding. If reports I have read are accurate, he had his testicles slashed with razor blades. The British authorities in their usual cowardly way are covering up.

                You cannot carry out work of that kind and be a normal,decent person mixing with other normal ,decent people. You are already a citizen of Hell.

                Nietzsche's advice about fighting demons is the most relevant advice that has ever been given. On another occasion, he made the same point in different words: "When you look into the Pit, remember that the Pit is looking into you."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wolfie Gilmore View Post
                  In an ideal world, I wouldn't even want to put anyone in prison - I don't believe in punishment, per se, I don't believe in an eye for an eye.
                  I'm assuming that by "ideal world" you are refering to a world without crime? Otherwise, how else would you suggest handling criminals? Give them a spank and send them on their merry way? Of course crime should be punished!!

                  Michael- I do agree with some of what you say. I agree that whoever does the job of torturing will inevitably be corrupted to some extent. And I'm sure it can become an addictive power trip. HOWEVER, I think saying "you are already a citizen of hell" is a wee bit disrespectful and melodramatic thing to say.

                  I don't know what the alternative is to torture in some cases. I think is HAS been proven in some cases to work. Bribing seems at least as fallible. Lets say you are given a serial killer who has murdered many innocents, and he has another presumably live victim waiting somewhere. What do you do? Do you really think you are going to "talk" him out of his game?

                  I'm not saying torture is good, or the answer. I just think it may be a bit of an unrealistic, rose-colored glasses approach to think that we will have better success finding terrorists/criminals/victims another way.(in some cases)
                  I have loved you. - Ser Jorah Mormont

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BloodyHell View Post
                    I'm assuming that by "ideal world" you are refering to a world without crime? Otherwise, how else would you suggest handling criminals? Give them a spank and send them on their merry way? Of course crime should be punished!!
                    Sorry, the "ideal world" thing was a bit of a misleading thing to say. I just mean that I think prison is a necessary evil - I don't think anyone *deserves* prison per se, it's more that it's the least worst solution to some things (eg what to do about dangerous recidivist criminals).

                    I think that prison/punishment is necessary to a degree - though who knows, given that there aren't societies without prisons to use as control groups! - to keep dangerous people from harming others, and to prevent lynch law, and hopefully to encourage people not to do bad things again/to give people an incentive not to do bad things. Though I can't help feeling that it's a stupid solution to some problems (eg drug taking....oh yes, put people where there are even more drugs and even less hope!).

                    The absence of effective alternatives are an argument for prison, but I think some people would say that criminals should be in prison because they deserve it, not as a social solution if you know what I mean?


                    I don't know what the alternative is to torture in some cases. I think is HAS been proven in some cases to work.
                    This is something I'd like to see evidence for, on both sides. Does anyone know of a good source of info about the effectiveness of torture?

                    But let's say there are some cases in which torture IS more effective at getting information. Does that make it ok? How many lives would have to be saved by torture for the torture to be justified?


                    -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Wolfie Gilmore View Post
                      This is something I'd like to see evidence for, on both sides. Does anyone know of a good source of info about the effectiveness of torture?

                      But let's say there are some cases in which torture IS more effective at getting information. Does that make it ok? How many lives would have to be saved by torture for the torture to be justified?
                      One life. In my opinion, if torturing a prisoner or a detainee saves one life, then it was justified. If it takes a weapon out of the hand of a sociopathic mass murdering leader, therefore saving lives in the future, it is justified.

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                      • #12
                        Just to play devils advocate here, but for the people who see the use of torture as a viable option, is the use of torture on Coalition troops in anyway justified? I mean surely the opposition would see the information they might get from such practices as saving lives on their side of the conflict.

                        Personally I'm against the use of torture for many reasons. My belief (I have no hard facts to back this up.) is that any information gained could well be dubious at best, because, well I'd tell them anything to get them to stop and that it does nothing to maintain the high ground that the west needs to occupy. As Wolfie has mentioned, I see a huge part of the conflict being one of winning the hearts and minds (to coin a phrase.) of the occupants of the middle east. To make sure that, as the years go by more and more of that part of the world is turned away from radicalisation and the moderates are encouraged so that the terrorists become more and more marginalised. The kind of measures we're discussing here seem to me to be more likely to help the radicals demonise the west and so spawn more jihadists, who will die for their cause.
                        JUST ENOUGH KILL

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                        • #13
                          Torture is justified if one life is saved? Puh-leeze. How many bodies and minds have been broken beyond repair by the practice of torture? How many sadistic psychopaths have been employed, promoted and decorated by your authorities? How many foreign psychopaths have been paid by the American taxpayer to commit crimes for which Nazis were hanged after Nuremberg?

                          How many hitherto decent young American men and women joined the forces to serve the principles of Jefferson and Lincoln and came home corrupted and morally degenerate beyond repair? Would you like to share your thoughts about the value of torture to the surviving heroes of Omaha Beach and Bastonge ? Do you even know what these words stand for in the collective memory of civilized people?

                          Yet my greatest rage and shame and pain is provoked by the servile, spineless collaborators in London. The seat once occupied by Winston Churchill is now kept by a cynical bum dead scared of his own people, obsequious to Washington, who inherited his position from a war criminal.

                          The British Government today makes the Vichy regime in France look like a noble company of upright patriots.

                          I am relieved that there is a place where I am on the record as being "disrespectful" about all these guttersnipes and their friends. Not to express anger in the face of this wickedness would be a form of cowardice and moral treason. I hope I am clear.
                          Last edited by Michael; 07-02-09, 12:58 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Michael View Post
                            How many hitherto decent young American men and women joined the forces to serve the principles of Jefferson and Lincoln and came home corrupted and morally degenerate beyond repair? Would you like to share your thoughts about the value of torture to the surviving heroes of Omaha Beach and Bastonge ? Do you even know what these words stand for in the collective memory of civilized people?
                            If the men who captured Omaha Beach thought a Nazi intelligence officer had the information needed to let the Allies thwart a counter attack that would have wiped out thousands of their brothers in arms, I think you'd be deeply disappointed at the steps they'd be willing to take to get that information. Snapping fingers? Kneecapping them? You bet.

                            Yet my greatest rage and shame and pain is provoked by the servile, spineless collaborators in London. The seat once occupied by Winston Churchill is now kept by a cynical bum dead scared of his own people, obsequious to Washington, who inherited his position from a war criminal.

                            The British Government today makes the Vichy regime in France look like a noble company of upright patriots.

                            I am relieved that there is a place where I am on the record as being "disrespectful" about all these guttersnipes and their friends. Not to express anger in the face of this wickedness would be a form of cowardice and moral treason. I hope I am clear.
                            You have a really, really low opinion of my country, I think I think the "war criminal" charge is complete nonsense.
                            Last edited by KingofCretins; 07-02-09, 01:09 AM.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Michael View Post
                              Torture is justified if one life is saved? Puh-leeze. How many bodies and minds have been broken beyond repair by the practice of torture? How many sadistic psychopaths have been employed, promoted and decorated by your authorities? How many foreign psychopaths have been paid by the American taxpayer to commit crimes for which Nazis were hanged after Nuremberg?

                              How many hitherto decent young American men and women joined the forces to serve the principles of Jefferson and Lincoln and came home corrupted and morally degenerate beyond repair? Would you like to share your thoughts about the value of torture to the surviving heroes of Omaha Beach and Bastonge ? Do you even know what these words stand for in the collective memory of civilized people?

                              Yet my greatest rage and shame and pain is provoked by the servile, spineless collaborators in London. The seat once occupied by Winston Churchill is now kept by a cynical bum dead scared of his own people, obsequious to Washington, who inherited his position from a war criminal.

                              The British Government today makes the Vichy regime in France look like a noble company of upright patriots.

                              I am relieved that there is a place where I am on the record as being "disrespectful" about all these guttersnipes and their friends. Not to express anger in the face of this wickedness would be a form of cowardice and moral treason. I hope I am clear.

                              If the mind broken is that of a murderer, a bomber, a rapist, a psychopath or some other sick person, then I do not give a care in the world.

                              And I have no idea what the Omaha Beach and Bastonge is. They appear to be battles, but I'm embarrassed to say I do not know the specifics of those battles. World history taught in schools does not give large amount of details on every battle. Could someone explain this further to me? (without being rude please.)

                              And before you continue to degrade and berate my country, just remember that the United States is certainly not the only country in the world that tortures people. It is not the only country in the world that does what is considered inhumane things to prisoners and/or detainees of war. In war and in time of crisis, people will do anything to get the information they need.

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                              • #16
                                King of Cretins.

                                My love for America--it is a passion really--is second only to my love for England. You could not possibly be more mistaken on that point. Would I be so harsh about,say, Turkey or Russia? Of course not. I would care, but not so much. You should see all my books on American history. I probably need help.

                                Tony Blair led Britain into an illegal war on the basis of lies. He killed a lot of people for no reason he has ever been honest about. I was pleased when Margaret Thatcher was well received in Washington because I was proud of her. To see Blair talking about Jesus while Americans cheer him on makes me want to vomit, metaphorically. If there were any justice he and Bush would spend the rest of their days in Spandau prison boring each other to tears with their lies and their empty platitudes.

                                Ike's armies did not engage in torture as a matter of policy as I am sure you know as well as I do. When George Patton lost his temper and slapped a shell shocked soldier it caused a scandal. Happily Ike smoothed things over. If torture was ever a secret policy we would would have heard about it by now. That is why you make your point in the form of a hypothetical question. You have no evidence, because there isn't any. These were brave and decent men who went home with clean hands. They would be ashamed of some of the things that young Americans today have been saying about torture, or so I believe.

                                From my own reading, the German Army in the West were willing to be helpful as far as they dared since they wanted as much of Germany as possible to be taken by the Western Allies.

                                The British Government out of cowardice or naive cynicism have collaborated in the evil of torture on top of the evil of the war itself. They have no respect for themselves or their country. They are my problem. But I have the impression that you are not completely happy with the position you have been trying to defend.

                                Late reply to Risa.

                                I said earlier that no great power has completely clean hands. But America always claims to be better than other countries, and to be fighting for human rights. There is some truth in this historically, which is why I mentioned Omaha Beach. All the more lamentable and disgusting has been the moral collapse since 9/11. Northern Ireland and the IRA presented a tragic conflict and some bad things were done, but torture was never a policy, convicted terrorists were not executed, and the IRA eventually stopped when they saw they were not going to achieve their goal. The UK has not much to be ashamed of.

                                The Communist terrorist campaign in Malaya was defeated, in time, without torture. Firm police action and respect for the rule of law are what win in the long run because you win respect that way. You c an get decent people to work with you instead of recruiting the dregs from the gutter. Torture has a bad record for achieving success, which is why I want people to see Pontecorvo's film "The Battle of Algiers."

                                Torture does not work. Torturers are losers. You surrender all your decent principles and find that there are more terrorists and other enemies than you had in the beginning. You sell your soul to the Devil and find that all that you have in your hand is a counterfeit dollar. And hardly any torture victims have been convicted of anything by a process that any civilized person would recognize. If you don't care about that, then it is probably too late.
                                Last edited by Michael; 07-02-09, 02:53 AM. Reason: Late reply to Risa

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Risa View Post
                                  And I have no idea what the Omaha Beach and Bastonge is.
                                  They did not teach you this in history?!!! Yikes. Oh well...here it is: Omaha Beach was the code name for a beach of Normandy during WWII. On D-Day, American forces stormed this beach and suffered HUGE casualties. It wasn't properly planned or executed, yet they prevailed and gained a few km.

                                  The battle of Bastogne also took place during WWII, specifically during the 'Battle of the Bulge.' Basically, Bastogne was a Belgian town that was a major crossroads for the Germans; it allowed them to keep their troops supplied and kept them ahead of the game. Again, after a horrific, long battle the Allied troops got the surrender of the town.

                                  Even if you can't learn this stuff in school - if you have any interest, and don't want to read about it, I really recommend the miniseries 'Band of Brothers'...it will educate you about a lot of the major WWII battles...and entertain you too!

                                  Michael - When I said you were being disrespectful, I meant to the troops, and their families. Unless you are personally involved in war, I think it is naieve and a bit arrogant to claim that they are all a bunch of psychopaths and monsters over there. Some of them are, I'm sure. But we don't really know the half of it, do we? Don't believe everything you read and hear from the media.

                                  "The UK has not much to be ashamed of"? Are you serious? Look back far enough and every country in the world has a LOT to be ashamed of. The UK is old. It has plenty of history.

                                  "Do you even know what these words stand for in the collective memory of civilized people?"

                                  Again, I'm pretty confused with exactly who you are talking down too. Do you know what those words stand for?! Why are you behaving as though you are some battered hero yourself? I think we are on equal ground here. Horrible things happen in war. Things I know there are many old men out there who wish they could erase it from their minds. But what is your solution? If the "enemy" (whoever that may be) always seems to be a step ahead, is killing your comrads on every side, what do you suggest? Really, I'm curious, because I agree that torture is not a pretty thing.
                                  I have loved you. - Ser Jorah Mormont

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                                  • #18
                                    Thank you BloodyHell for the quick history lessons. When it comes to history lessons, especially here in the south, the books are kinda skimpy on the names of every battle. We are taught World History for like one semester, maybe two, but so much has to be covered...wars and battles might be talked about but not much information is given. Besides my history teacher was a monotone man who was very hard to listen to...nap time always tried to surface.

                                    Michael- You and I will just have to agree to disagree on the whole "torture does not work" topic. It can and it does.

                                    Yes, America still tortures people. Do you have a better way of getting suspected terrorists to talk? Should we offer them a cozy comfortable life here in the United States instead? Offer them the American dream for information? Give them cash or anything else they might want?

                                    And America does do good things for human rights and other countries. It gives millions and millions of dollars worth of aid and support to countries when they need it. Natural disaster...we fly in support, food, and care. We throw our shoplifters and petty theives in a jail, providing them food, drink, shelter, and cable television. We do not cut off a finger or a hand and send them on their merry way. We do not even harm most of our rapists or child molesters. We give them jail time and release them back into the country. In other countries, they might never see the light of day again...or take another breathe for that matter. And in other countries, the rapists were a uniform. So yeah, compared to some other countries in the world, America is a beacon of humanity.

                                    Until the whole world is at peace (which is a utopian fantasy and not really plausible), there will be wars, there will be crime, and there will such "inhumane" things as torture, the death penalty, and detainee prisons.

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                                    • #19
                                      BloodyHell, to me Omaha Beach and Bastonge symbolize the struggle against Nazi Germany and the cost of it. Nazi Germany was an evil system in which torture played a central part. I hate to know that the principles for which brave and decent men gave their lives are being betrayed by their heirs.

                                      Why do you think that all the Germans who could get to the West in 1945 did do so that they could become prisoners of the Americans and the British rather than the Russians? Why did they fight the Russians every inch of the way even against hopeless odds?

                                      If I have been "disrespectful" about torturers and their collaborators it will not be enough to save my soul, but it is a start.

                                      Risa, you are not to blame if they did not teach you history very well, but we will all be to blame if we do not learn the lessons of what is going on now.

                                      It is pure rubbish to say that you cannot get information from suspects without using torture. Do you think police stations are regular places of torture? You have been watching the wrong movies. Why not find out for yourself?

                                      In my experience police officers and criminal lawyers and military people will make time, when they can find some, to talk to serious students. They probably will not agree with me on all points but experience does suggest some principles:-

                                      1) Suspects should be given austere but civilized conditions.

                                      2) Do not make false promises. Always keep your word.

                                      3) Ask suspects questions to which you already know the correct answers. You will be able to gauge how much your man knows and how truthful he is.

                                      4) With the more promising suspects you slip in few questions to which you do not know the answers and treat the product as raw intelligence to be refined and used.

                                      5) No threats, foul language or "Jack Bauer" type histrionics. That stuff is for the emotional cripples who need it on their tv.

                                      There is more ,of course. Interrogation is an ancient and subtle art. I wouldn't call it noble exactly, it is ambivalent, and it has its place. None of the intelligence that has played a contributory role in military victory has been obtained by torture, so far as I know. And no wars have been lost because one side refrained from using torture. On the accuracy of that last sentence I will take my stand.
                                      Last edited by Michael; 09-02-09, 09:40 PM. Reason: Final addition.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Michael View Post
                                        King of Cretins.

                                        My love for America--it is a passion really--is second only to my love for England. You could not possibly be more mistaken on that point. Would I be so harsh about,say, Turkey or Russia? Of course not. I would care, but not so much. You should see all my books on American history. I probably need help.
                                        I guess it's a question of what one loves about our country... we're the world's Room 101 of things to hate and distrust, so it stands to reason that applies to the reasons people like us, too.

                                        Tony Blair led Britain into an illegal war on the basis of lies.
                                        Damn... when?

                                        Originally posted by BloodyHell View Post
                                        "The UK has not much to be ashamed of"? Are you serious? Look back far enough and every country in the world has a LOT to be ashamed of. The UK is old. It has plenty of history.
                                        The UK is also the father of the modern world. Much more to be proud of. There is not one former British colony that is not better off for having had a go at British rule.

                                        Originally posted by Michael View Post
                                        If I have been "disrespectful" about torturers and their collaborators it will not be enough to save my soul, but it is a start.
                                        What would you, personally, let happen in lieu of torture?

                                        It is pure rubbish to say that you cannot get information from suspects without using torture. Do you think police stations are regular places of torture? You have been watching the wrong movies. Why not find out for yourself?

                                        In my experience police officers and criminal lawyers and military people will make time, when they can find some, to talk to serious students.
                                        Such as myself.

                                        No, torture is not commonplace or permitted in criminal investigation. Deception and intimidation are, though, and are practiced mercilessly on any suspect that doesn't invoke.

                                        They probably will not agree with me on all points but experience does suggest some principles:-

                                        1) Suspects should be given austere but civilized conditions.
                                        Civilized is definitely up for grabs. Excessively bright or excessively dark rooms for someone to sweat in waiting to be questioned?

                                        2) Do not make false promises. Always keep your word.
                                        This is more for prosecutors than police. Police can, will, and should lie remorselessly to suspects to obtain information.

                                        3) Ask suspects questions to which you already know the correct answers. You will be able to gauge how much your man knows and how truthful he is.
                                        More to steer them to something inconsistent in their story. You're really mistaking part of the purpose here -- to obtain a confession, this is all very neat, but we're not talking about a confession, we're talking about intelligence.

                                        4) With the more promising suspects you slip in few questions to which you do not know the answers and treat the product as raw intelligence to be refined and used.
                                        You're proceeding from an assumption that every suspect is someone who can and wants to be reasoned with.

                                        5) No threats, foul language or "Jack Bauer" type histrionics. That stuff is for the emotional cripples who need it on their tv.
                                        Of course you threaten and cuss. Reminding someone of what might happen if the police made it look like they had provided information, for instance.

                                        Does your model for interrogation have any chance to convince a religious zealot, committed to the goal of murdering thousands in a planned attack, to talk? Sociopaths don't want plea deals, don't respond to ordinary ways of dealing with them, and the system is helpless to do much but hold them. The men in question here are large scale Ted Bundys and Mansons and Gacys.
                                        Last edited by KingofCretins; 10-02-09, 12:40 AM.
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