Using Law to Justify Torture

By
Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 1:51 pm
Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

For months now, Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey has refused to investigate whether Bush administration officials committed war crimes by authorizing the torture of suspected terrorists. His reasoning? Any actions were authorized by the administration’s lawyers, and so cannot constitute a crime. As he wrote to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), one of 56 House Democrats who last month called on Mukasey to appoint a special counsel: “It would be both unwise and unjust to expose to possible criminal penalties those who relied in good faith on … prior Justice Department opinions.”

But can the alleged use of torture be so easily waived away? Since the so-called “war on terror” began, the Bush administration has, by its own admission, used “enhanced interrogation techniques” like forcing detainees to stand for 40 hours; simulated drowning and dousing detainees’ naked bodies with cold water in chilled prison cells. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld formally approved the use of “stress positions,” attack dogs, sexual humiliation and physical violence. And these are just the officially sanctioned techniques the public knows about.

As the photos and written accounts of torture, sodomy and murder at Abu Ghraib have revealed, the American public may only know a limited amount when it comes to abuse of detainees in U.S. custody. Indeed, Human Rights First in 2006 found that in the previous four years, at least eight U.S. prisoners had been tortured to death.

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

The Democrats’ call for an independent investigation has received little attention – perhaps because the Justice Dept. has consistently denied that policymakers could be culpable. After all, they were acting on the advice of legal counsel.

Indeed, evidently anticipating the Democrats’ charges, in 2002 the White House, Justice and Defense Departments began creating a paper trail of legal memos in the hopes of insulating their actions. Thus the infamous “torture memos,” written by former Justice Dept. lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee, were drafted to define torture narrowly – and were careful not to rule it out. Last week, the legal commentator Stuart Taylor Jr. accepted Mukasey’s position without question. Taylor wrote in Newsweek that there was no sense in prosecuting government officials. President George W. Bush, Taylor argued, should pardon everyone; the matter of culpability should be dropped.

But do the administration’s legal memos put the matter to rest? Does soliciting a set of self-serving opinions actually shield senior government officials from prosecution?

Probably not, according to many constitutional scholars and lawyers. Indeed, the Justice Dept. itself would never accept, on face value, any suspected criminal’s defense that he had been relying on advice of counsel. Rather, legal experts say, that advice must have been a reasonable interpretation of the law, based on a thorough knowledge of the facts, and provided before the suspect acted. So when it comes to policymakers authorizing torture, the administration’s defense appears to fail on all grounds.

First, without an investigation establishing who advised whom, of what and when, we don’t even know if Mukasey’s claim is true. Sure, the White House has turned over legal memos written by the Justice Dept.’s Office of Legal Counsel. But at least 17 other memos, including the most recent, have not been released, on the basis of attorney-client privilege.

“We don’t know what these memoranda say,” said Scott Horton, a human-rights lawyer and professor at Hofstra Law School. “The ones operative now have not yet become public. We know that they go to the really rough stuff.” That includes “the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency,” according to a New York Times report on a 2005 OLC memo.

For the Justice Dept. now to claim that an “advice of counsel” defense eliminates even the need to investigate is disingenuous at best. “Typically, in a white-collar case, DOJ is going to look to challenge your assertion that you have a viable ‘advice of counsel’ defense every way possible,” said a prominent criminal-defense attorney, who doesn’t want to be named because he frequently squares off against the Justice Dept. That means a suspect must reveal what he told his lawyer, and what his lawyer told him. In other words, he waives the attorney-client privilege that the government is now invoking.

Even if it turns out a lawyer did sanction criminal conduct, no one gets a pass by saying they relied blindly on that advice. The reliance has to be reasonable. “They would have to subjectively believe what they were doing was not against the law,” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Could any U.S. official have reasonably believed torture was legal? “Given the history of the U.S. adherence to the U.N. Torture Convention, it’s a well-established fact that torture is unlawful,” stated Amrit Singh, a lawyer for the ACLU, who has sued the Defense Dept. to obtain documents regarding the treatment of prisoners. “To then plead innocence based on legal advice would eviscerate the whole purpose of these laws.”

The United States has even codified the international ban on torture into federal law, providing for the death penalty when the torture turns fatal. Notably, by March 2005 more than 108 prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan had died in U.S. custody, most of them violently, according to government data provided to the Associated Press.

The United States is also a signatory to the torture prohibitions of the Geneva Conventions. These apply “not only to prisoners of war, but to all prisoners,” said Singh, a position the Supreme Court affirmed in the Hamdan case in 2006. The Geneva Conventions also outlaw “humiliating or degrading treatment.”

Not surprisingly, then, government officials have strongly disagreed about the legality of extreme interrogation techniques, like waterboarding. February 2003 memos from the Judge Advocate General’s Corps to the Pentagon opposed them unequivocally. A report last month by the Justice Dept.’s inspector general described White House meetings where the controversial methods were hotly debated.

“Many people in the government were nervous or upset about implementing the president’s post-9/11 counterterrorism policies,” writes Jack Goldsmith, head of OLC from October 2003 to June 2004, in his book, “The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration.” That included some in the CIA “who were reportedly anxious about the special interrogation program for high-value detainees.”

John Rizzo, acting general counsel of the CIA in 2002, confirmed this in Congressional testimony last year. “There had been some concerns that were expressed” by CIA interrogators who feared prosecution, he said.

After Goldsmith took over OLC, he rescinded the now-infamous Aug. 1, 2002 “torture memo” that defined torture as inflicting pain as intense as “the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” The memo refused to rule out such torture for interrogation purposes.

“The message of the Aug. 1, 2002 opinion was clear,” writes Goldsmith. “Violent acts aren’t necessarily torture; if you do torture, you probably have a legal defense; and even if you don’t have a legal defense, the law doesn’t apply if you act under color of presidential authority.”

The CIA had been through this before. Most notoriously in 1975, when the Senate’s Church Committee, headed by Sen. Frank Church, publicly scrutinized and penalized the agency for using illegal methods. So CIA officials desperately wanted what Goldsmith calls the “golden shield” to protect them from future prosecution — which they hoped the torture memos would provide.

It turns out, with good reason. New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, in her new book, “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals,” writes that the International Committee of the Red Cross issued a secret report to the CIA concluding that interrogation techniques it had used on suspected Al Qaeda members, dating back to before August 2002, were “categorically” torture and “constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. government in jeopardy of being prosecuted.”

One such case involves the 2002 interrogation of Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, whom the administration has admitted was subjected to waterboarding. Former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft acknowledged the problematic timing of the Zubaydah interrogation just last week, when he testified to the Judiciary Committee that Zubaydah was likely mistreated months before such actions were legally sanctioned. According to Mayer, Zubaydah told the Red Cross that he was waterboarded “at least 10 times in a single week and as many as three times a day.”

“I think the evidence is quite strong that the torture program began almost immediately after 9-11,” said Ratner of the CCR. “So the memos don’t help them there.”

In fact, if lawyers wrote the memos approving torture techniques at the request of officials who had already used them, the lawyers themselves could be guilty of conspiring to commit war crimes. “If the lawyer’s opinion is seriously wrong,” said Horton, “then the lawyer risks being tied into the criminal conduct.”

Indeed, after World War II, the U.S. military tribunal at Nuremberg prosecuted a group of German lawyers who had advised the Nazis on its wartime policies — including the treatment of prisoners. “They were held criminally liable,” said Horton, “on account of legal advice they gave.”

Lawyers are still held criminally accountable today. For example, Horton noted, the Justice Dept. is now prosecuting a prominent attorney in Miami, whose clients have included former Vice President Al Gore, for allegedly approving payments of legal fees that derived from illicit drug proceeds.

But legal experts say that authorizing torture rises to a whole other level of criminality. “The prohibition on torture is not just one rule among others, but a legal archetype – a provision which is emblematic of our larger commitment to non-brutality in the legal system,” Jeremy Waldron, professor of law and philosophy at New York University Law School, wrote in the Columbia Law Review.

That’s certainly how it was viewed in the Nuremberg era. As the U.S. Supreme Court wrote in 1944: “There have been, and are now, certain foreign nations with governments … which convict individuals with testimony obtained by police organizations possessed of an unrestrained power to seize persons suspected of crimes against the state, hold them in secret custody, and wring from them confessions by physical or mental torture. So long as the Constitution remains the basic law of our Republic, America will not have that kind of government.”

Today, Mukasey would add one caveat: unless the government’s lawyers say otherwise.

Categories & Tags: National Security| Torture|

Comments

100 Comments

ajamo
Comment posted August 14, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

Put in a simple wording, IT’S UN AMERICAN ACT


twperson
Comment posted August 3, 2008 @ 7:54 am

No bias here…..What is the “so-called” war on terror if not an “actual” war on terror? As for “stress positions and attack dogs, sexual humiliation and (my turn) “physical violence” and to the idea that the idiot Rumsfeld approved of those techniques…so what. They are not soldiers and have no right to the protections of the Geneva Conventions mandates. (a point you fail to point out)Human Rights First is a source? Please. As far as the data supplied to AP… 108 died violently in US custody, how many were severely wounded before being captured? You cherry pick your “facts” to make your case…Typical


mvguy
Comment posted July 30, 2008 @ 10:41 am

TORTURE?? Hey we NEED all the TOOLS!! When there is a REALLY BIG CRIME to HIDE…..It is essential to have ALL THE TOOLS..Phonetaps, E-taps Propaganda & Torture are NECESSARY. First, one must investigate the CRIME……..And GET THE STORY OUT of how the EVILDOERS were responsible….HEY…..They ADMIT it!!! [with TORTURE] The “witches” in Salem ADMITTED to being witches [a CRIME for which being BURNED AT THE STAKE was the penalty} to BE ALLOWED to BREATHE. Second all the EVIDENCE must be destroyed……………..Interrogation tapes of “TERRORISTS” DESTROYED by CIA?? See http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1210/p03s03-usju.html THINK that the AIR TRAFFIC controllers MAY have a STORY to TELL?? 911 Air TRAFFIC CONTROLLER audio TAPES DESTROYED?? See http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F03EEDF173CF934A35756C0A9629C8B63 Need More?? They dont wanna VOTE for the PATRIOT ACT?? Send them ANTHRAX!!! http://www.newsgarden.org/columns/anthrax/anthraxtargets.shtml Why not ALLOW all CRIMINALS to use TORTURE to assist their IMAGE, SITUATION and to VANQUISH their ENEMIES………..Like legalized gambling, its legalized for YOU 2B the VICTIM not the Perpetrator……………………………


auslahe
Comment posted July 29, 2008 @ 7:11 am

Forceful article

A democratic government does not brake the law!


howiekurtznot
Comment posted July 28, 2008 @ 11:07 am

I’m with Marshalldoc. Apologists for torture are tragic.

One bizarre comment says: “If fair treatment of your enemy is based on reciprocity-by all means keep it . If no reciprocity is expected -do all you can to ensure your survival.” Another says: “Instead of being legalistic we have to be realistic.Our democratic way of life and our existence may depend on it!” Hach and Stefa are claiming that to save the American democratic way of life we must give it up.

Let’s see, where was it we heard about “destroying the village in order to save it”?


micky
Comment posted July 27, 2008 @ 8:23 pm

Very good review of a difficult humanitarian and legal problem.Torture in any form should not be allowed even on people who would not hesitate to use it on us.Not only because it violates our moral standards,but also because it is usually useless in the quality of information that is obtained.Better psychological methods are available ,and those if used by experienced investegators achieve superior results.


sallyh
Comment posted July 27, 2008 @ 7:51 pm

Well written and timely. We need to face the contradictions between who we think we are and who we are as reflected by our actions. I doubt whether there are very many people who would stand up for the idea that infliction of pain or water boarding do not constitute torture. If the laws governing treatment of prisoners of war need to be spelled out more specifically, let’s do it. But something tells me that the government officials who sanctioned the behavior of interrogators would have had the full backing of the majority of US citizens had those citizens been consulted after 9/11. So I think we should never mind spending a lot of time placing blame but learn from our mistakes and figure out how not to let this happen again. Kudos to Ms. Eviator. sallyh


marshalldoc
Comment posted July 26, 2008 @ 5:21 pm

Coming back to review posts since mine, I’m disappointed to find a plethora of apologists for torture.

“They’re inhuman so we must be too” is what it amounts to.

Great teaching points!

While it’s easy (and common) to dehumanize one’s adversaries (as every culture waging war has done, including the U.S. & U.K. (demonizing the vicious & inhuman ‘Huns’ Nazis, ‘Bosche’, or ‘Japs’ in WWI & WWII – “Why, they kill women & children, they’re inhuman so it’s okay that we do whatever we feel we need to in order to protect our clearly superior society & moral values” – as the argument goes) – with each new enemy being ‘different & worse than any ever before in the whole history of mankind on Earth’. Once hostilities cease however, and the previously “inhuman” enemy’s inherent humanity is, again, recognized we find ourselves confronted with the failures of our own morality… Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo…

I am amazed that seemingly rational people, like those posting above, are somehow able to convince themselves that a nation can retain its moral compass by abandoning it and further, that by abandoning its moral compass it will, by some fantastic stretch of the imagination, serve as a beacon of morality to those it hopes to sway to its view.

The one issue that all the ‘we must torture to survive’ crowd overlooks (because it removes the only rational justification for torture) is that those professional interrogators who are intimately familiar with those who were tortured (and I’m not talking about Bushevik propaganda flaks, but the real interrogators) unanimously agree that standard interrogation methods got the best results and that tortured information was 90% lies. For the inevitable result of depending upon tortured “intelligence” (isn’t that an oxymoron?) please refer to Colin Powell’s speech at the U.N. justifying an attack on Iraq in which the ‘proofs’ were lies generated by tortured people who told their torturers whatever would make the pain stop.

Point of history Hatch… the Nazis had no respect for the ICRC. They allowed visits when it suited their propaganda purposes. They lied and denied their crimes to the Red Cross as glibly as does our own CIA. Don’t you know that the ICRC wasn’t allowed in Treblinka, Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen… the list goes on, an on.


mikem
Comment posted July 26, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

We will never be able to protect our values and defend our civilization by allowing our leaders to betray our values and behave like barbarians. Many people have come to this country to escape regimes that torture and have no regard for basic human rights. Torture is not the American way.


stefa
Comment posted July 26, 2008 @ 10:25 am

Very well researched opinion. Unfortunately, it ignores the reasons behind the seemingly inhumane treatment of prisoners.References to the Geneva Convention would bring a smile to Osama! To us rules of law are paramount for a civilised society. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a most cruel and unprincipled enemy. Instead of being legalistic we have to be realistic.Our democratic way of life and our existence may depend on it! Stefa


marj
Comment posted July 25, 2008 @ 10:10 pm

Very well written and thought provoking article. There are no easy answers here. By all rational standards, the law cannot be used to justify torture of another human being. But that is being rational and these acts that the terrorists perpertrate are irrational and it is therefore impossible to apply rational standards to them. If they are successful, they would never allow the rule of a rational law to exist anywhere they are in control. However, for our own souls there must be a better method to achieve the same ends; i.e. our safety and preservation of the democratic way of life. MARJ


hach
Comment posted July 25, 2008 @ 5:19 pm

Superbly articulated position and rational, however the enemy at hand now is far worse than the Communist regime and in many aspects -worse than the Nazi war machine. The Nazis tried to respect the Red Cross and rules of law. The ‘Dar al Islam’ and the Al Qaeda have no consideration for life ,for women or for children (Nor to their own women and children).Actually they propagate atrocities and welcome the same…If fair treatment of your enemy is based on reciprocity-by all means keep it . If no reciprocity is expected -do all you can to ensure your survival. Hachamovitch


lydiaev
Comment posted July 25, 2008 @ 3:50 pm

well written cogent article that reviews all legal aspects of the problem. Iam not so sure that genle interrogation is going to give us the answeres we’re looking for but physical torture is unacceptable. Special training in interrogation techniques using a psychological approach will be more humane but will it stand up to legal scrutiny.Lydia


marshalldoc
Comment posted July 24, 2008 @ 4:37 pm

I agree with Howie, above (although I think the phrase is a quote & not the author’s). My response, when waterboarding is described in some squeaky-clean euphemism, is to take a lesson from right-wing ‘pro-lifers’ and describe it as “Partial Drowning Water Torture”. Whether or not the drowning is partial or not is entirely in the hands of the torturer and depends upon their level of skill and intent since, clearly, it is entirely possible to drown a victim by waterboarding.

Regarding the article as a whole, and the discussion of Bushevik torture, if find that progressives tend to concentrate entirely upon legalisms but fail to apply some of the right wing’s own yardsticks of personal integrity and disdain of moral relativism.

It’s entirely clear (and made even more so by the number of hoops the Busheviks created & jumped through in order to “justify” so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”) that they knew what they were doing was utterly wrong and contrary to any accepted standard of civilized behavior and that they knew they’d crossed a fairly clear-cut line between the legal and the criminal.

What’s needed here is not erudite debates of who’s got the better argument for or against legal defenses of torture but someone in authority to bring charges of war crimes & crimes against humanity against the entire administration (and probably a few ‘fellow-traveler’ Democrats), issue warrants, and get them all in court, under oath, wearing strips. Then, let the law sort it out.

So how come, progressives are the ones who keep having to defend themselves against charges of ‘moral relativism’ and lack of moral imperatives?


howiekurtznot
Comment posted July 23, 2008 @ 9:17 pm

I am very pleased to see this story, which has only one notable flaw. And it is notable. You write: “…the Bush administration has, by its own admission, used ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ like … simulated drowning …” Presumably, “simulated drowning” is meant to refer to water boarding. The problem: There is nothing “simulated” about the drowning that occurs when the torture method of water boarding is employed. The victim is in the process of drowning, with waer filling the lungs; if it continued uninterrupted, the victim would die. There is nothing “simulated” about that.

Using the false term “simulated drowning” minimizes the crime. Please call it what it is: interrupted drowning, or simply its once-common name: drowning torture.


howiekurtznot
Comment posted July 23, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

I am very pleased to see this story, which has only one notable flaw. And it is notable. You write: “…the Bush administration has, by its own admission, used 'enhanced interrogation techniques' like … simulated drowning …” Presumably, “simulated drowning” is meant to refer to water boarding. The problem: There is nothing “simulated” about the drowning that occurs when the torture method of water boarding is employed. The victim is in the process of drowning, with waer filling the lungs; if it continued uninterrupted, the victim would die. There is nothing “simulated” about that.

Using the false term “simulated drowning” minimizes the crime. Please call it what it is: interrupted drowning, or simply its once-common name: drowning torture.


marshalldoc
Comment posted July 24, 2008 @ 11:37 am

I agree with Howie, above (although I think the phrase is a quote & not the author's). My response, when waterboarding is described in some squeaky-clean euphemism, is to take a lesson from right-wing 'pro-lifers' and describe it as “Partial Drowning Water Torture”. Whether or not the drowning is partial or not is entirely in the hands of the torturer and depends upon their level of skill and intent since, clearly, it is entirely possible to drown a victim by waterboarding.

Regarding the article as a whole, and the discussion of Bushevik torture, if find that progressives tend to concentrate entirely upon legalisms but fail to apply some of the right wing's own yardsticks of personal integrity and disdain of moral relativism.

It's entirely clear (and made even more so by the number of hoops the Busheviks created & jumped through in order to “justify” so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”) that they knew what they were doing was utterly wrong and contrary to any accepted standard of civilized behavior and that they knew they'd crossed a fairly clear-cut line between the legal and the criminal.

What's needed here is not erudite debates of who's got the better argument for or against legal defenses of torture but someone in authority to bring charges of war crimes & crimes against humanity against the entire administration (and probably a few 'fellow-traveler' Democrats), issue warrants, and get them all in court, under oath, wearing strips. Then, let the law sort it out.

So how come, progressives are the ones who keep having to defend themselves against charges of 'moral relativism' and lack of moral imperatives?


lydiaev
Comment posted July 25, 2008 @ 10:50 am

well written cogent article that reviews all legal aspects of the problem. Iam not so sure that genle interrogation is going to give us the answeres we're looking for but physical torture is unacceptable. Special training in interrogation techniques using a psychological approach will be more humane but will it stand up to legal scrutiny.Lydia


hach
Comment posted July 25, 2008 @ 12:19 pm

Superbly articulated position and rational, however the enemy at hand now is far worse than the Communist regime and in many aspects -worse than the Nazi war machine. The Nazis tried to respect the Red Cross and rules of law. The 'Dar al Islam' and the Al Qaeda have no consideration for life ,for women or for children (Nor to their own women and children).Actually they propagate atrocities and welcome the same…If fair treatment of your enemy is based on reciprocity-by all means keep it . If no reciprocity is expected -do all you can to ensure your survival. Hachamovitch


marj
Comment posted July 25, 2008 @ 5:10 pm

Very well written and thought provoking article. There are no easy answers here. By all rational standards, the law cannot be used to justify torture of another human being. But that is being rational and these acts that the terrorists perpertrate are irrational and it is therefore impossible to apply rational standards to them. If they are successful, they would never allow the rule of a rational law to exist anywhere they are in control. However, for our own souls there must be a better method to achieve the same ends; i.e. our safety and preservation of the democratic way of life. MARJ


stefa
Comment posted July 26, 2008 @ 5:25 am

Very well researched opinion. Unfortunately, it ignores the reasons behind the seemingly inhumane treatment of prisoners.References to the Geneva Convention would bring a smile to Osama! To us rules of law are paramount for a civilised society. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a most cruel and unprincipled enemy. Instead of being legalistic we have to be realistic.Our democratic way of life and our existence may depend on it! Stefa


mikem
Comment posted July 26, 2008 @ 9:20 am

We will never be able to protect our values and defend our civilization by allowing our leaders to betray our values and behave like barbarians. Many people have come to this country to escape regimes that torture and have no regard for basic human rights. Torture is not the American way.


marshalldoc
Comment posted July 26, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

Coming back to review posts since mine, I'm disappointed to find a plethora of apologists for torture.

“They're inhuman so we must be too” is what it amounts to.

Great teaching points!

While it's easy (and common) to dehumanize one's adversaries (as every culture waging war has done, including the U.S. & U.K. (demonizing the vicious & inhuman 'Huns' Nazis, 'Bosche', or 'Japs' in WWI & WWII – “Why, they kill women & children, they're inhuman so it's okay that we do whatever we feel we need to in order to protect our clearly superior society & moral values” – as the argument goes) – with each new enemy being 'different & worse than any ever before in the whole history of mankind on Earth'. Once hostilities cease however, and the previously “inhuman” enemy's inherent humanity is, again, recognized we find ourselves confronted with the failures of our own morality… Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo…

I am amazed that seemingly rational people, like those posting above, are somehow able to convince themselves that a nation can retain its moral compass by abandoning it and further, that by abandoning its moral compass it will, by some fantastic stretch of the imagination, serve as a beacon of morality to those it hopes to sway to its view.

The one issue that all the 'we must torture to survive' crowd overlooks (because it removes the only rational justification for torture) is that those professional interrogators who are intimately familiar with those who were tortured (and I'm not talking about Bushevik propaganda flaks, but the real interrogators) unanimously agree that standard interrogation methods got the best results and that tortured information was 90% lies. For the inevitable result of depending upon tortured “intelligence” (isn't that an oxymoron?) please refer to Colin Powell's speech at the U.N. justifying an attack on Iraq in which the 'proofs' were lies generated by tortured people who told their torturers whatever would make the pain stop.

Point of history Hatch… the Nazis had no respect for the ICRC. They allowed visits when it suited their propaganda purposes. They lied and denied their crimes to the Red Cross as glibly as does our own CIA. Don't you know that the ICRC wasn't allowed in Treblinka, Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen… the list goes on, an on.


sallyh
Comment posted July 27, 2008 @ 2:51 pm

Well written and timely. We need to face the contradictions between who we think we are and who we are as reflected by our actions. I doubt whether there are very many people who would stand up for the idea that infliction of pain or water boarding do not constitute torture. If the laws governing treatment of prisoners of war need to be spelled out more specifically, let's do it. But something tells me that the government officials who sanctioned the behavior of interrogators would have had the full backing of the majority of US citizens had those citizens been consulted after 9/11. So I think we should never mind spending a lot of time placing blame but learn from our mistakes and figure out how not to let this happen again. Kudos to Ms. Eviator. sallyh


micky
Comment posted July 27, 2008 @ 3:23 pm

Very good review of a difficult humanitarian and legal problem.Torture in any form should not be allowed even on people who would not hesitate to use it on us.Not only because it violates our moral standards,but also because it is usually useless in the quality of information that is obtained.Better psychological methods are available ,and those if used by experienced investegators achieve superior results.


howiekurtznot
Comment posted July 28, 2008 @ 6:07 am

I'm with Marshalldoc. Apologists for torture are tragic.

One bizarre comment says: “If fair treatment of your enemy is based on reciprocity-by all means keep it . If no reciprocity is expected -do all you can to ensure your survival.” Another says: “Instead of being legalistic we have to be realistic.Our democratic way of life and our existence may depend on it!” Hach and Stefa are claiming that to save the American democratic way of life we must give it up.

Let's see, where was it we heard about “destroying the village in order to save it”?


auslahe
Comment posted July 29, 2008 @ 2:11 am

Forceful article

A democratic government does not brake the law!


mvguy
Comment posted July 30, 2008 @ 5:41 am

TORTURE?? Hey we NEED all the TOOLS!! When there is a REALLY BIG CRIME to HIDE…..It is essential to have ALL THE TOOLS..Phonetaps, E-taps Propaganda & Torture are NECESSARY. First, one must investigate the CRIME……..And GET THE STORY OUT of how the EVILDOERS were responsible….HEY…..They ADMIT it!!! [with TORTURE] The “witches” in Salem ADMITTED to being witches [a CRIME for which being BURNED AT THE STAKE was the penalty} to BE ALLOWED to BREATHE. Second all the EVIDENCE must be destroyed……………..Interrogation tapes of “TERRORISTS” DESTROYED by CIA?? See http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1210/p03s03-usju…. THINK that the AIR TRAFFIC controllers MAY have a STORY to TELL?? 911 Air TRAFFIC CONTROLLER audio TAPES DESTROYED?? See http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=… Need More?? They dont wanna VOTE for the PATRIOT ACT?? Send them ANTHRAX!!! http://www.newsgarden.org/columns/anthrax/anthr… Why not ALLOW all CRIMINALS to use TORTURE to assist their IMAGE, SITUATION and to VANQUISH their ENEMIES………..Like legalized gambling, its legalized for YOU 2B the VICTIM not the Perpetrator……………………………


twperson
Comment posted August 3, 2008 @ 2:54 am

No bias here…..What is the “so-called” war on terror if not an “actual” war on terror? As for “stress positions and attack dogs, sexual humiliation and (my turn) “physical violence” and to the idea that the idiot Rumsfeld approved of those techniques…so what. They are not soldiers and have no right to the protections of the Geneva Conventions mandates. (a point you fail to point out)Human Rights First is a source? Please. As far as the data supplied to AP… 108 died violently in US custody, how many were severely wounded before being captured? You cherry pick your “facts” to make your case…Typical


ajamo
Comment posted August 14, 2008 @ 2:54 pm

Put in a simple wording, IT'S UN AMERICAN ACT


George Arndt
Comment posted November 27, 2008 @ 4:45 pm

Torture, contrary to the way it is often portrayed in movies and TV, torture is actually an unreliable way to obtain information from a prisoner. This is why information obtained under duress is inadmissible as evidence in most Western courtrooms. A closely related problem with torture is the phenomenon of “false positives” in which a prisoner fabricates information just to stop the torture.


anonymous
Comment posted May 16, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

I am being secretly mentally torched by the government also.The bad part about is that the citizens participate in it and they don't even know its torcher because the government blind them with money.If you being paid well to stay silent would you do anything to jepodize your steady paycheck.Especially if you have been receiving a check for over 10 years.What the government has been doing for the past 10 years is relying on the information my accussers and others have given them.From their the goverment develope and made up their own theory of what was my involvement in the illegal activities my accuser was in.Then they use deceptive tactics against me to have me talking and behaving in and out of character.In others words when my accusers could not trap me the government took over and set a trap.The government already had a plan with what they was trying to do to me since 1999.You see the government use all of my words or even if write something down on paper against me.What they do is use the government laws when its convienent for them.But go off the record when they wamt to break them.How long this is going to continue is anyone's guess.Anyway I just work up one morning and a spirit came over me and said to stop talking because it was useless.How can you keep talking trying to convince a satanic power control greedy government that your innocent.Eventually you would not have any energy anymore.Now I just keep my thoughts to myself or express them on a website.This mess been going on so long it phase out into another dimension.Just a secret government experiment if you ask me.This is a shame because I thought the black slavery days was over.This let you now that if your a person of color the government can still do what ever they want.You would expect by now someone should of stood up and put a stop to this mess especially your own race.Man what a surprise and a awakening for me.JUST PUPPETS ON A VIOLIN STRING!


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I am being secretly mentally torched by the government also.The bad part about is that the citizens participate in it and they don't even know its torcher because the government blind them with money.If you being paid well to stay silent would you do anything to jepodize your steady paycheck.Especially if you have been receiving a check for over 10 years.What the government has been doing for the past 10 years is relying on the information my accussers and others have given them.From their the goverment develope and made up their own theory of what was my involvement in the illegal activities my accuser was in.Then they use deceptive tactics against me to have me talking and behaving in and out of character.In others words when my accusers could not trap me the government took over and set a trap.The government already had a plan with what they was trying to do to me since 1999.You see the government use all of my words or even if write something down on paper against me.What they do is use the government laws when its convienent for them.But go off the record when they wamt to break them.How long this is going to continue is anyone's guess.Anyway I just work up one morning and a spirit came over me and said to stop talking because it was useless.How can you keep talking trying to convince a satanic power control greedy government that your innocent.Eventually you would not have any energy anymore.Now I just keep my thoughts to myself or express them on a website.This mess been going on so long it phase out into another dimension.Just a secret government experiment if you ask me.This is a shame because I thought the black slavery days was over.This let you now that if your a person of color the government can still do what ever they want.You would expect by now someone should of stood up and put a stop to this mess especially your own race.Man what a surprise and a awakening for me.JUST PUPPETS ON A VIOLIN STRING!


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