Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oblahma And Torture

As The One waffles about on the torture issue, depending upon which way the political winds blow, he is in a position to seriously damage the country's intelligence community and the national defense as a whole. Here's Ol' BC's biggest problem with the present situation. I don't feel making someone uncomfortable constitutes torture. If this is the case, I've had bosses that should be imprisoned. We're getting completely carried away here simply because of the left's hatred of George Bush. John McCain was tortured. Some nut who got waterboarded was not. I have friends who have been waterboarded and they are just fine.

Those of you who read from time to time know I'm not a big Dubya fan. Amazingly though, The One is finding many of Dubya's policies good enough to continue. The left is starting to squeal, Oblahma is starting to cave and the country is going to suffer.

Just an observation.


At 12:41 AM, Blogger Texas Truth said...

Indeed we will suffer.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Mark said...

I'm sorry, but we are not just talking about waterboarding here. We are talking about forcing prisoners to masturbate in front of their fellows while servicemen took pictures. We are talking about smearing feces on prisoners. We are talking about stacking naked men for laughs and snapshots. We are talking about mental abuses, physical abuses, and murder.

I'm sorry, but your stance is completely indefensible. These methods have been rejected by all civilized nations of the world, including the majority of Americans in this country.

When we throw out the basic rights we hold dear for ourselves and all human beings in the name of safety and security, we become petty thugs. Anyone who would defend these "methods", using the argument that the ends justify the means, is blind to the fact that honor and dignity is not something we can postpone for a while when it is convenient.

These acts were atrocious, and defending them is disgusting. When you treat human beings like vermin, you only confirm that you yourself are a loathsome and pitiable human being.

I suppose if you yourself committed terrorist acts that you would then think it just and fair to be covered with excrement, to be tortured, and eventually to be murdered.

I'm sorry, but fighting monsters must take all the honor and discipline and "humanity" we are able to muster, it does not beg that we become monsters ourselves.

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Vincent said...

I agree, Mark.

I can't believe this guy says waterboarding is not torture. I recall the story of Daniel Levin who volunteered to be waterboarded just to find out. He concluded it WAS torture - and he knew he would be perfectly safe.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Ol' BC said...

Mark, I didn't say making them masturbate or smearing feces on them is alright. I just don't think being wrong constitutes torture. That stuff is clearly wrong, but I don't find it torturous. Just because the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to these terrorists doesn't give us the green light to be sophomoric. Daniel Levin may be more of a pussy than Rob Spickard. Spickard contends waterboarding isn't torture and he also has first hand knowledge.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Mark said...

The point is, you are mincing words. Forcing a man to simulate that he is drowning is torture. It is wrong. Just because a guy is "okay" afterward does not make it ethical, nor does it make it "not torture".

And no matter how you want to turn the phrase or twist the words, these acts are dehumanizing to our victims and to us.

Being a "pussy" has nothing to do with it. You are arguing "degrees". This argument could be made regarding the weather. 90 degrees F might not be "hot" to you, but that doesn't mean it does not fall under the definition of hot. Just because a guy can weather thumb screws without crying has nothing to do with the definition of torture. Torture is the causing of severe physical or mental pain, many times to extort information. Believe me, being subjected to the feeling that you are drowning 180 times in one month is going to cause mental anguish. You are in complete denial if you think it won't. I nearly drowned once, and once was enough. Being a pussy has nothing to do with it.

Call a spade a spade.

At 3:04 PM, Blogger Mark said...

A cursory summation of the results of waterboarding:

Watherboarding can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage or, ultimately, death. Adverse physical consequences can start manifesting months after the event; psychological effects can last for years.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Ol' BC said...

You don't have to concur with anyone's opinion on the issue because it is just that - an opinion. My opinion one shared by millions as is yours. I just believe the results have been positive. This country has done some things in war that aren't admirable(i.e.a-bomb, internment camps, etc which happened to be authorized by left leaning presidents.) but I don't think they were done just for the sake of doing them. The intentions were honorable. I don't see this any differently, except that the terrorists'people weren't killed as we and our allies have been in the terrorists' videos.

At 8:24 AM, Blogger Mark said...

The road to hell, BC, the road to hell...

Your logic astounds me. I wonder what else you would justify in the name of "positive results"?

Let's see. Torture is okay. Nuking people is okay. What else? As long as we benefit? Your logic is akin to the tribal chieftain in Africa who, when asked what is good and evil, replied: "Good is when I take my neighbor's wives. Evil is when he takes my wives."

You can't take an atrocious act and redefine as a good simply because the outcome is favorable to you.

The same argument could be made for slavery or any other wicked deed. As long as it benefits the criminal, it is okay? Balderdash.

Take an ethics course.

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Vincent said...

Well said, Mark. Bravo.

At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Vincent said...

I have to wonder if these guys would consider waterboarding to be torture if enemy soldiers did it to our soldiers to get information about our military and/or its plans.

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Exactly. When it is done to us, it is evil. When it is done to benefit us, it is good. This is the reasoning of the simple man.

Ethics is not about good or bad in a strictly definitional way. It is about holding ourselves to a code of what we believe to be right for all men. Ethics is a necessary framework to guide ourselves in matters of war, politics, societal settings, and commerce. When we agree to behave in a certain way, we need to hold ourselves to that standard, whatever that standard is.

We should not redefine the terms so that we are living up to the standard. Nor should we suddenly decide that the standard only belongs to a certain group of people.

What is ironic is that the people on this blog are hard core Constitutionalists. They deem the document to be virtually sacred and unquestionable. They rail and cry every time someone attempts to act outside that particular framework, yet when their own actions deviate from the standards set by the Constitution or by Internationl laws, they immediately display their hypocrisies. They immediately begin to mince words and dance around the subject.

The whole thing is sickening. You either have moral fiber and can hold yourself to an ethical code or you can't. The Bush administration could not and did not. And anyone willing to defend it is being willfully blind.

Here endeth the lesson.

At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Vincent said...

I can't find any news items about a Rob Spickard being waterboarded. I found a Rob Spickard who won a golf driving contest and Rob Spickard who makes jewelry.

Daniel Levin, however, was Acting United States Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel in 2004.

You can read his memo about torture (and waterboarding) here: http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/18usc23402340a2.htm

Who was Rob Spickard and why should his opinion count? What authority does he have on the subject?

Even if waterboarding isn't torture, what about waterboarding someone repeatedly over a hundred times? One could argue being hit in the hand with a hammer is not torture - but the repetiton of a hundred times with the hammer to gain information - is that torture?

Anyway, I don't know who Rob Spickard is and can't find reference to him being waterboarded, so I don't know if he is less of a "pussy" than Daniel Levin. However, Daniel Levin, being a US official, carries much more weight with me than some unknown person.

And why the disparaging term "pussy"? Ah yes, conservative name-calling. We must denigrate a person who may contradict a conservative stance.

At 6:58 PM, Blogger Mark said...

An excellent resource. Levin essentially makes the same conclusion that I did. It is torture and torture is abhorrent and is not justified in the name of "good reason".

Thanks for the resource.

At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Vincent said...

Hopefully some of the conservatives here read it, too.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Not to mention the generals, admirals and air force interrogators who have roundly condemned waterboarding as illegal and as torture. The evidence is thunderous, and the defense of illegal torture for whatever reason is deplorable at best.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Ol' BC said...

Amazing as it may seem, all of us are free to have and express opinions thanks to many of these less than flavorful methods. All the world would be speaking German or Japanese if not for our military and intelligence. These Islamic extremists may be the worst of the lot. Now is no time for weakness as they put no value on human life. You can watch on video as they cut of heads of people. Meanwhiole, we whine about waterboarding. Yes, our soldiers have been waterboarded and much worse. They have earned our respect.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Mark said...

No one is saying you have no right to your opinion. You have every right to have an opinion, yet I have every right to attack it and ask you to defend it. However, you are unable to do this. You would rather talk about freedom of speech and the need to be "strong"!

No one is saying our freedoms are not protected by brave men and women. We are saying that waterboarding is torture. The world agrees. We are also saying that two wrongs don't make a right. It does not matter how badly the terrorists treat us. When we give up our freedoms and resort to methods akin to those used by the terrorists themselves, we are not showing strength; we are showing the utmost weakness. If you think torturing displays that you are strong, you are absolutely dead wrong. It displays how quickly you are able to be reduced to a thug no better than the men we fight. It displays just how morally vaccuous you really are.

We can and must hold ourselves to a higher standard, else we fail in this effort before we ever start.

No one is "whining" about waterboarding! We are saying it is morally reprehensible and unethical! We are denouncing it. We are standing up for what is right. If you think this is "whining", then I am sorry for you.

The fact of the matter is that waterboarding has been punished by the USA with jail terms and execution. It has been, and always will be, regarded as torture and as something morally degrading to ourselves and those we torture.

Weakness. Bah! Strong is the man who can hold himself to a code of honor without selling out at the first moment it proves inconvenient.

It is pointless to argue this debate with you. You have shown yourself to be a blind, willfully ignorant, supporter of thuggery. Bravo, sir! Thank god your opinion belongs only to a pitiful, yet loud, minority.

At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Vincent said...

Mark, he is doing as other conservatives do - if he finds he cannot defend his opinion with facts, logic, or anything else, he turns to defending his right to have an opinion, which no one is arguing.

By making it an argument about his right to an opinion, this gives him a winnable argument.

He has simply changed the debate from: Is waterboarding torture? to Do I have a right to my opinion? Is it because of torture that we have this right?

If the only reason we have the right to an opinion is because of torture, then what good is it? Do the ends justify the means? or is it how we play the game that counts?

The strong man can and does hold himself to a code of honor no matter what. The Lone Ranger taught me this.

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Vincent said...

In re-reading BC's comment, "all of us are free to have and express opinions thanks to many of these less than flavorful methods," I have to wonder how true that is. Do you have any evidence that torture gave us our Bill of Rights?

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Mark said...

There is no correlation whatsoever between our present freedom and the use of torture. It could actually be argued that torturing has endangered our freedoms:

When we torture, we commit acts that will be used as propaganda tools against us, thus creating more fanaticism among our enemies. Also, when we torture enemies, we set a precedent for torturing anyone who might be defined as an enemy. This includes American citizens.

It might also be argued that torturing human beings relieves us of our rights to be free. Freedom is earned through right action. If freedom from abuses does not apply to certain people, then it cannot apply to any people.

I find the whole protectionist idea to be inane to begin with. 40,000 people a year die in their cars, yet we don't attack cars. We live with it. When we react to terrorists in this way, by making ourselve fearful, militant, and willing to give up our honor, then I can only conclude that the terrorists won, as that was essentially their only real aim.

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Vincent said...

Well said, Mark.

At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Vincent said...

One thing I find intriguing is this shared mythology conservatives seem to have that harsh interrogation methods (a euphamism for torture) actually has saved our way of life as we know it, that somehow torture has not only given us life, liberty and happiness, but is somehow part of truth, justice and the American way.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Ol' BC said...

Ah, Vincent, unlike those who have been attacking us, the U.S. doesn't routinely invoke "harsh" interrogation. I find it odd that no one on the left wants the other side to play by the same rules. I spoken to three people personally that have been waterboarded and none of them share your opinion or Mr. Levin's who it seems isn't a combatant. That doesn't make your opinion wrong as Mr. Levin's doesn't make mine wrong. I find beheading and breaking bones totally different. That's all. Thanks for the exchange. It's nice to hear a opposing viewpoint that doesn't resort to name calling. Refreshing actually.

At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Vincent said...

It isn't that I don't want the other side to play by the rules, it is just that this is an unrealistic expectations. However, I intend to play by the rules. That makes me better than them.

Honestly, if someone waterboarded me, or caused me severe distress of some sort, I probably would confess to whatever they wanted me to confess to - whether I did it or not (which is why coerced evidence is non-admissable in courts). Most interrogators claim that torture is actually one of the least efficient means of getting accurate information. If that is the case, then why use it? Let the other guys use it, while we stay away from it, and use better methods.

I may be mistaken, but aren't military men trained to withstand waterboarding? If someone is trained to deal with it, then it ceases to become torture, whatever it is. Of course someone trained to withstand it isn't going to think it is torture - so the combatant opinion is a little skewed.

Just because the opposite side beheads people and breaks bones does not give us license to do the same - especially when there are better options.

No problem on the no name-calling. I learned that from Cowboy Bob. "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Vincent said...

I also have to wonder if these three people would be willing to undergo it a hundred and eighty times or more. It is one thing to be subjected to it as a training exercise, and another to wonder if it would ever end.

A drop of water isn't torture, but the use of water drops in certain random patterns over and over again (cf. Chinese water torture) becomes torture.

Even if waterboarding in and of itself is not torturous, the use of it hundreds of times on one person probably is.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I believe in calling a spade a spade. I won't take back what I said, "name-calling" or no. The fact of the matter, BC, is that you support torture, and whether you like it or not, this is going to put you into the category of offensive to my delicate sensibilities. Did I have to call you loathsome and morally bereft? Nope. But I did, because you are!

And Vince, frankly, your definition that torture isn't torture if you are trained to withstand is likewise flawed. The act has not changed. The act is torture, regardless of how effectively you can withstand it.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Vincent said...

I was just trying a different tact to explain why some people who have undergone it say it isn't torterous. If it doesn't discomfit a person, then it isn't torture to that person. I just can't wrap my head around the idea that it isn't torture, so if someone claims to have gone through it and doesn't think it is torture, then there has to be an explanation.

I do think waterboarding is torture, and there is no getting around that to my mind - and we have no right to do it. Period.

At 7:39 PM, Blogger Mark said...

And, BC, who can you name on the left who is saying, "We don't mind if our enemies torture"? Who the hell is saying that? Your claim that the left doesn't care is absurd. No one should be tortured, BC. Not you, not anyone. I would really love to see you back up your claim that members of the "left" are saying it is okay to torture us. What a completel and utterly absurd way to argue.

Try to back up your argument with facts instead of mere opinion.

Fact: The USA has convicted waterboarders in our history.

Fact: The Geneva Convention specifically lists waterboarding as a war crime.

Fact: Information obtained from torture or coersion is not admissable in court because it is unreliable.

Fact: Waterboarding was committed 183 times on one prisoner.

Fact: Human rights are the rights of HUMANS, be they American or terrorist.

Fact: We believe a sacred human right is the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishments.

Conclusion: Members of our government okayed and carried out actions that have been, and are widely regarded to be, by the international community, and American history, tortuous. They did so in full knowledge that the information from this method is unreliable. They did so in full knowledge that all men, free or not, deserve to be treated with the dignity afforded to all men on this earth.

This is how to argue a point. Not spew meaningless opinion.

I await your rebuttal, sans vaccuous opinion.

At 8:03 PM, Blogger Mark said...

See also:


Wherein an interrogator decries the use of torture as ineffective, immoral, and unlawful.

At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Vincent said...

Bravo, Mark. *applause*

Succinct, concise, and factual.

(little known fact - waterboarding was used by the Spanish Inquistion. I bet no one expected that.)

At 8:30 PM, Blogger Mark said...

:) No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition!

At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Amanda said...

"The One is finding many of Dubya's policies good enough to continue"

President Obama would, considering many policies are ones that actually make sense and were put forth by the Democratic party.

However, the policy that he would disagree with is torture not only by ACLU definition but by Webster definition as well.

Are you justifying waterboarding because these are our POWs? If the terrorists, waterboarded our servicemen/women, would he still be "some nut who was waterboarded"?

Torture has one goal: distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument. In other words, the captive is going to tell the "interragator" what he wants to hear whether it is the truth or not.

Again, by definition and affect, waterboarding classifies as torture.

The effects are the same: anguish of body or mind. The same agony as with the the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure.

Since when has America become a Do Unto Others state? Any form of torture only shows we are no different then those we've sworn to overcome.

President Bush said, "We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail." That spirit captures what America is about but using that spirit to defend cruelity to anyone held in captivity negates any steps we could have gained.


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