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Torture?


What do you think of this article?



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Interrogation tactics such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and slapping did not violate laws against torture when there was no intent to cause severe pain, according to a Bush-era memo on the tactics released Thursday.

Attorney General Eric Holder says government workers who followed protocol won't be prosecuted.

"To violate the statute, an individual must have the specific intent to inflict severe pain or suffering," said an August 2002 memo from then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee to John Rizzo, who was acting general counsel for the CIA.

"Because specific intent is an element of the offense, the absence of specific intent negates the charge of torture. ... We have further found that if a defendant acts with the good faith belief that his actions will not cause such suffering, he has not acted with specific intent," Bybee wrote.

The Bybee opinion was sought on 10 interrogation tactics in the case of suspected al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah.

The memo authorized keeping Zubaydah in a dark, confined space small enough to restrict the individual's movement for no more than two hours at a time. In addition, putting a harmless insect into the box with Zubaydah, who "appears to have a fear of insects," and telling him it is a stinging insect would be allowed, as long as Zubaydah was informed the insect's sting would not be fatal or cause severe pain.

"If, however, you were to place the insect in the box without informing him that you are doing so ... you should not affirmatively lead him to believe that any insect is present which has a sting that could produce severe pain or suffering or even cause his death," the memo said.

Other memos allowed the use of such tactics as keeping a detainee naked and in some cases in a diaper, and putting detainees on a liquid diet.

On waterboarding, in which a person gets the sensation of drowning, the memo said, "although the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death, prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result" to violate the law.

Authorities also were allowed to slap a detainee's face "to induce shock, surprise or humiliation" and strike his abdomen with the back of the hand in order to disabuse a detainee's notion that he will not be touched, the memos said.

Bybee noted in the memo that the CIA agreed all tactics should be used under expert supervision. Other memos said waterboarding can be used only if the CIA has "credible intelligence that a terrorist attack is imminent" and if a detainee is believed to have information that could prevent, disrupt or delay an attack, and other methods fail to elicit the information.

Another memo to Rizzo, from Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven G. Bradbury on May 10, 2005, noted that nudity could be used as an interrogation technique.

"Detainees subject to sleep deprivation who are also subject to nudity as a separate interrogation technique will at times be nude and wearing a diaper," it said, noting that the diaper is "for sanitary and health purposes of the detainee; it is not used for the purpose of humiliating the detainee and it is not considered to be an interrogation technique."

"The detainee's skin condition is monitored, and diapers are changed as needed so that the detainee does not remain in a soiled diaper," the memo said.

Another Bradbury memo laid out techniques and when they should be used in a "prototypical interrogation."

"Several of the techniques used by the CIA may involve a degree of physical pain, as we have previously noted, including facial and abdominal slaps, walling, stress positions and water dousing," it said. "Nevertheless, none of these techniques would cause anything approaching severe physical pain."

All of the CIA techniques were adapted from military "survival evasion resistance escape" training, according to a May 30, 2005, memo from Bradbury to Rizzo.

"Although there are obvious differences between training exercises and actual interrogations, the fact that the United States uses similar techniques on its own troops for training purposes strongly suggests that these techniques are not categorically beyond the pale," the memo said.

The memo said waterboarding and other techniques were used on Zubaydah; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, believed to be the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and identified as "KSM" in the memo; and another suspected al Qaeda leader, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

"The CIA believes that it would have been unable to obtain critical information from numerous detainees, including KSM and Abu Zubaydah, without these enhanced techniques," the memo said.

"These legal legal memoranda demonstrate in alarming detail exactly what the Bush administration authorized for 'high value detainees' in U.S. custody," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a statement. "The techniques are chilling. This was not an 'abstract legal theory,' as some former Bush administration officials have characterized it. These were specific techniques authorized to be used on real people."

In releasing the memos in response to a public records request from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups, the Obama administration informed CIA officials they will not be prosecuted for past waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics.

Attorney General Eric Holder promised in a separate statement that officials who used the controversial interrogation tactics were in the clear if their actions were consistent with the legal advice from the Justice Department under which they were operating at the time.

"My judgment on the content of these memos is a matter of record," President Obama said in a statement released from the White House.

Obama prohibited the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding shortly after taking office in January. Such techniques "undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer," he said Thursday.

The president said that while United States must sometimes "protect information that is classified for purposes of national security," he decided to release the memos because he believes "strongly in transparency and accountability" and "exceptional circumstances surround these memos and require their release."

Obama argued that "withholding these memos would only serve to deny facts that have been in the public domain for some time."

"This could contribute to an inaccurate accounting of the past, and fuel erroneous and inflammatory assumptions about actions taken by the United States," he said.

He added that the officials involved in the questionable interrogations would not be subject to prosecution because the intelligence community must be provided "with the confidence" it needs to do its job.

The president pledged to work to ensure the actions described in the memos "never take place again."
4/17/2009, 3:23 am Link to this post Send Email to John DeJ   Send PM to John DeJ
 
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Re: Torture?


Well, there's a couple things that come to mind. First off, inherent in a negative reaction to the treatment of the detainees are a couple unstated assumptions:

1) Innocent US citizens should not be treated this way.
This is inferred from the fact that it is innocent US citizens doing the objecting and thus projecting expectations of how they should be treated onto others.

2) Everyone should be treated as if they are innocent US citizens.
This presumes that those doing the objecting see no moral distinction between detained enemy combatants and innocent US citizens, otherwise there would be no need to point out how "chilling" this treatment is.

In order for me to even open the door to the possibility that it is ethically acceptable to treat enemy combatants different than innocent US citizens, I must show that differentiation between the two is possible and that it carries moral weight. I don't think this is difficult - innocent US citizens go about their business content to (at the very least) do no harm to their fellow citizens. Enemy combatants, on the other hand, seek to do harm to and/or kill innocent US citizens.

Further, those in national defense have an obligation to defend innocent US citizens because of a sworn oath; they have made no promise or oath to defend anyone else, to include enemy combatants. Thus, for the national defense agent, in addition to any moral obligations they have to their fellow man at large, they have an additional obligation to protect innocent US citizens, which may, at times, require the treatment of enemy combatants in a manner than they have no justification for treating innocent US citizens. I would even argue that enemy combatants have given up their right to presumption-of-innocence treatment because of their desire (as evidenced by statements and actions) to harm that class of people that the national defense agent has sworn to protect.

Now, if we accept that we can justify different treatment for innocent US citizens and enemy combatants, to what extent are we ethically allowed to treat them differently? I'm not prepared to articulate my thoughts on this atm; it's in the middle of my workday afterall.

Just some thoughts ...

Also, it does not follow to attempt to justify this treatment of the detainees by pointing out that the military gives similar treatment to its own personnel undergoing training. Anyone who goes through that military training does so because they have volunteered to do so, knowing full well what they will get. Our detainees, on the other hand, (presumably) are being held against their will (hence the term "detainees").
4/17/2009, 12:05 pm Link to this post Send Email to SuXuemei   Send PM to SuXuemei
 
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Re: Torture?


Actually, I am against the unethical treatment of ANY person - regardless of their race, national origin, or what they have done in the past.

By this philosophy, it is alright to beat the living crap out of a burglar that broke into your home.

If United States is suppose to be the "Moral Compass" of the world, then we should be above the "he has one so I want one" way of thinking.

We must rise above those people.

Of course, one could bring up the way to handle a bully. Some experts say to ignore him, some say defeat him badly. Neither work, so something else should be created. Until we can do that, we are just as bad as those that would do us harm.
4/17/2009, 12:53 pm Link to this post Send Email to John DeJ   Send PM to John DeJ
 
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Re: Torture?


I, too, am "against unethical treatment of ANY person." Would you really say, though, that the same standard of what is ethical or not applies universally to all people and all situations? Is it equally (un)ethical to incapacitate a burglar in your home and an old lady taking a walk in the park? Would I be "just as bad" as the burglar if I shot him to prevent him from doing me harm? Why? Have I no right to defend myself?

You state you are "against unethical treatment of ANY person" but you do not define what that means or does not mean.
4/17/2009, 1:41 pm Link to this post Send Email to SuXuemei   Send PM to SuXuemei
 
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Re: Torture?


Up until the early 90's, in MA you had the "equal force" rule in play. If I broke into your home and picked up your TV, you could not legally stop me.

You are right, each person's idea of ethics is different.


The way I think about it is this: Would I want to do this to myself? Would I want to kill myself? Would I want to torture myself?

The ends do not always justify the means.

And I am using "myself" to literally mean, John.

4/17/2009, 4:28 pm Link to this post Send Email to John DeJ   Send PM to John DeJ
 
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Re: Torture?


So ... we are appealing to the law to decide our standard of ethics for the purposes of this discussion? Why would we do that? Is that the right standard?

I don't really care what any law says about what's right or wrong - I care about what actually is right or wrong. Unless somehow you can show me why we should rely on the law for our moral judgments.

Also, you are saying that everyone should be treated the way you would want to be treated. Let's run with that a bit - let's say you knock at my door and I let you in and say, "Why, John DeJ! How delightful of you to stop by!" I assume you appreciate that I did not deadbolt my door and call the police and have you arrested for being on my property, no? You would not want to be treated in such a way, no? What, then, should I do when the rapist shows up at my door? Should I not call the police because I or you would not want to be treated in such a way? Are there no competing ethical considerations?
4/17/2009, 5:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to SuXuemei   Send PM to SuXuemei
 
Charles Cunning Profile
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Re: Torture?


Here in Missouri, if a burglar (or anyone else) breaks into your home you have the right to defend yourself by whatever means are necessary. If you kill them, it's self defense and the law protects you. What's interesting to me is that they're trying to get it passed that this statute not only apply to houses, but to property as well, meaning you have the right to open fire on any unwanted person on your land. I realize this is off topic, but I was wondering what other people thought of it.

More on topic, everyone as their own ideas about ethics and morals. Laws are not supposed to stand in for our morality, they exist because a society cannot depend on the morals of all its members. They exist so we can coexist.

As for torture, I doubt the debate should not be so much about "is torture wrong", of course it's wrong, but whether "is it justifiable?" Is it a matter of "never compromise" or "whatever it takes?" I'm not sure what my opinion of it is, though if we want to know the answer I recommend we spend some time with a good book. You know the one.


And since I cannot end on a serious note, a lolcat.

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4/17/2009, 7:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to Charles Cunning   Send PM to Charles Cunning
 
John DeJ Profile
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Re: Torture?


Even personal ethical reasoning is a law.

If you follow the Bible, then that too is setting standards.

I always liked the "you can do whatever you want providing you are not violating my right to do the same."

It's not an easy thing to follow.

For example, smoking is fine providing you are not smoking in front of someone that doesn't like cigarette smoke. You want to play music loud? Great! Wear headphones the muffle sound so only you hear. And so on.
4/18/2009, 12:57 pm Link to this post Send Email to John DeJ   Send PM to John DeJ
 
Dusky Beauty Profile
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Re: Torture?


I can't remember who said it, and googling the quote directed me back to.. this forum where I said it before, but.

quote:

The Right to Swing Your Fist Ends Where Another Man's Nose Begins.



Last edited by Dusky Beauty, 4/19/2009, 10:33 am


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UO: Reatha Starfell, CoH: Dusk Fairchild, WoW: Qurr, Pursia, Flaire, WAR: Dusk Starfelle
4/19/2009, 10:33 am Link to this post Send Email to Dusky Beauty   Send PM to Dusky Beauty ICQ AIM
 
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Re: Torture?


Yes, John Dej, I would do unto others what I would have done unto me. But, I give a higher priority to "others" that do not actively act to cause harm to us.

I would do to the citizens of LA what I would have them do unto me - I would have done what was necessary to get the information to protect them.

See [url=[sign in to see URL] (you may need to take a minute and register)

and
[url=[sign in to see URL]

If you really believe that we are no better than the terrorists when we use waterboarding and such to get info out of them to thwart their attacks, how would you have justified the deaths caused from the attacks that would not have been stopped?
4/22/2009, 7:53 am Link to this post Send Email to SuXuemei   Send PM to SuXuemei
 


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