Torture at Gitmo…?

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…or just interrogation of really bad guys? The NY Times and other places are reporting that the International Red Cross is looking to visit D.C. to discuss the situation with the Bush administration. The details of the Red Cross' report are confidential, though the Seattle Times is reporting the group found "cruel, inhumane, and degrading" conditions there.

The Times records the respective responses from the Pentagon and the State Department:

"We certainly don't think it's torture," General Myers said before delivering a speech to the Economic Club of Indianapolis, according to the Web site of The Indianapolis Star. "Let's not forget the kind of people we have down there," he said. "These are the people that don't know any moral values."…

"We take their reports very, very seriously," Richard Boucher, the department spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday. Mr. Boucher declined to comment on the specifics raised in the report but said, "We value very much things they raise for us in their reports."

Whole thing here. More stories here.

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You can check out the cover and read the full table of contents, my editor's note, and a great story by Matt Welch on the revolutionary effect of low-cost European airlines by going here.

And, for just $19.95, you can subscribe (or renew your existing sub) to Reason and get a free paperback copy of the new anthology Choice: The Best of Reason by going here.

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  1. “Let’s not forget the kind of people we have down there,” he said. “These are the people that don’t know any moral values.”

    Sellout political tool Myers. Comparing Bush to Hitler always struck me as wrong, but this worm is Keitel reborn.

    You know who else don’t have any moral values? Liberals. Gay people.

    Dangerous times.

  2. I swear I was just coming in here to comment on that same phrase. Just goes to show you, you’ve got to slack off from work pretty early in the morning to beat joe to Hit & Run.

  3. Keitel? Harvey Keitel?

  4. WTF? Only the truly paranoid would think that the Pentagon is itching to torture gays and liberals because a spokesman badmouthed the terrorists at Gitmo.

    As for the specifics, I don’t think sharing medical information constitutes torture, nor do I think humiliating someone by forcing them to strip constitutes torture. I especially don’t think forcing Muslim men to answer questions posed by females constitutes torture. The Red Cross really dilutes their case by throwing these in.

    The forced kneeling and extreme temperatures cause me some concern. I suppose the loud music could also cross the line, at some point.

  5. General Wilhelm Keitel. A military mediocrity appointed to be Hitler’s military Chief of Staff by virtue of his willingness to tell the boss what he wanted to hear, keep people with bad news from having contact with him and, most relevantly to this thread, utilize Nazi ideology to determine the tactics and doctrine of the armed forces.

  6. “Only the truly paranoid would think that the Pentagon is itching to torture gays and liberals because a spokesman badmouthed the terrorists at Gitmo.”

    So, RC, when the FBI, ATF, and Janet Reno used phrases like “anti-government” and “gun rights extremists” to characterize the OKC bombers and groups like the Freemen, you were totally ok with that?

    It is dangerous and wrong for the government, especially those authorized to use deadly force, to use the language one party applies the other to describe terrorists and military enemies. One definition of totalitarianism is the merging of the Party with the State.

  7. We are all familiar with General Keitel, joe. No need to show us that you can reference an encyclopedia.

  8. joe, are you saying those who seemed paranoid about Reno were rightly so? Either way, I think your point is a stretch. I think it suffices to invoke boring but worthy ideas like respect for the rights of the accused, innocent until proven guilty, the rule of law, etc.

  9. Let’s not forget; just because an act is cruel, inhuman and degrading doesn’t mean it’s torture. Gonzales proved that in his memo; if it wasn’t true, then Bush wouldn’t have nominated Gonzales to be Attorney General. You see, that’s the mistake critics of the Bush Administration always make: if the people in the Bush Administration didn’t know what they were doing, then they wouldn’t be in charge, would they?

    …And, oh yeah, you really do have to consider the kind of people we’re talking about here. You see, these people are like genus Homo Terreri and the Conventions only cover Homo Sapiens.

    P.S. I’m a Republican propaganda victim. I believe anything the people I listen to tell me, and I say “islamo-fascist” a lot.

  10. Shultz’s First Law of Social Dynamics: Jesus was right; people are sheep.

  11. “joe, are you saying those who seemed paranoid about Reno were rightly so?”

    I’m saying some of her rhetoric could be construed in a threatening manner by people of a certain political affiliation. Public officials have an affirmative duty to differentiate between political opponents and terroristic enemies. Some of her language lumped together peaceful people with whom she disagreed with dangerous terrorists.

  12. Actually, ihtBS, that was off the top of my head.

    THIS is from a google search:

    “This war no longer has anything to do with knightly conduct or with the agreements of the Geneva Convention. If this war is not fought with the greatest brutality…then in the foreseeable future the strength at our disposal will not be sufficient to be able to master this plague. The troops are therefore empowered and are in duty bound in this war to use without mitigation even against women and children any means that will lead to success. Consideration of any kind are a crime against the German people and the soldier at the front.” – Gen. Wihelm Keitel

    Creepy, eh?

  13. severe temperatures, loud music and other sounds, the sharing of medical information with interrogators and forced nudity…female personnel were allowed to interrogate them, which could be demeaning to some Muslim men…

    Torture? My ass.

    Not that they should be there at all. But to classify any of that as torture is absurd.

  14. c’mon. they’re gonna use torture to prevent a terror attack in the eleventh hour. if these people were innocent, what were they doing there? this is completely justifiable because the cruelty on all sides in WWII was worse. we’re getting better. it’s for the children, man.

    SCHUUUUUUUULLLLLTTTTZZZZZZ!!!!! Ch’o i’chu!

    baaah baaah.

    and the world is 100% better off RIGHT NOW now that saddam’s off the market. just like chicago is better now that this drug dealer in the robert taylor “homes” got iced last night. we’re all better off. yeah.

    apples and oranges (or would it be froots (sic) and nuts?). bah humbug.
    drf

  15. rst,

    You really don’t get it, do you?

    …Even assuming it isn’t torture, it’s morally pathetic. What you’re defending is disgusting and wrong!

    Why can’t you see that?

  16. joe,

    Good objective analysis on Reno’s inappropriate language (don’t say I never said anything nice to you!), but it sidesteps the question of whether it was right to construe great danger from that language — as you are doing with the other side’s language.

  17. Well in certain fields of study like toxicology one would look at both the intensity of a treatment, as well as it’s duration, to determine it’s effects.

    So, if these mild forms of abuse occur for years, repeatedly year in and year out, rather than for a single event, does that multiplier effect of a long duration, even if the concentration is dilute, constitute torture?

  18. Joe,

    You compare someone to a convicted war criminal for saying some terrorists have no morals? Saying that Myers was trying to link terrorists to gays and liberals is quite a stretch unless you’ve got him on video flashing subliminal messages that say gays & liberals = no morals = terrorists. Would it have been better if he described them as amoral killers, or would you object to that as well?

    Ken,

    If you can’t understand that there are different degrees of treatment, and that people can disagree about what constitutes torture, then I can’t help you. You could easily make a case that being taken away from your family, getting locked in jail with a bunch of criminals for years, and being exposed to sexual assault and other violence constitutes torture. Yet we do that as a matter of course with even non-violent offenders in this country, and we don’t call it torture do we?

    Sorry, I just can’t seem to get too worked up about the fact that we use some harsh techniques against enemies of this country who think slaughtering thousands of U.S. civilians is a ticket to martyrdom.

  19. Why can’t you see that?

    Because

    Even assuming it isn’t torture, it’s morally pathetic. What you’re defending is disgusting and wrong!

    Is wholly your opinion.

  20. “Sorry, I just can’t seem to get too worked up about the fact that we use some harsh techniques against enemies of this country who think slaughtering thousands of U.S. civilians is a ticket to martyrdom.”

    How do you know for certain that the Gitmo inmates are indeed guilty? We’ve already released scores of people who, it turned out, did absolutely nothing wrong. Also, Myers didn’t say “TERRORISTS have no morals,” he said “THOSE PEOPLE have no morals.” Dehumanizing them, in other words, so he can mistreat them without having to feel guilt.

    RC-
    The problem isn’t the sharing of medical information itself, but that the information was shared so the torturers would better know what to do. Those doctors should at the very least have their licenses taken away for violation of the Hippocratic Oath.

    Incidentally, how much “valuable information” can be gleaned from folks who have been locked up for years and years?

  21. David:

    “You could easily make a case that being taken away from your family, getting locked in jail with a bunch of criminals for years, and being exposed to sexual assault and other violence constitutes torture. Yet we do that as a matter of course with even non-violent offenders in this country, and we don’t call it torture do we?”

    The difference is those people are in jail following due process and a public trial, they weren’t arbitrarily picked up in a foreign country and locked away on the say so of a government official, in a place specifically chosen as it is out of the reach of the courts of this country.

    They must be really confident the people in Gitmo are bad guys!

    I would _love_ to see Bush and his cronies after twelve months in Gitmo. I doubt they’d last a month.

  22. So, RC, when the FBI, ATF, and Janet Reno used phrases like “anti-government” and “gun rights extremists” to characterize the OKC bombers and groups like the Freemen, you were totally ok with that?

    Well, they were anti-government and gun rights extremists. So am I, for that matter, as well as millions of other folks. I didn’t feel particularly threatened, though, because I wasn’t planning murder, assault, and armed overthrow of the government.

    That said, I regard Reno as far more damaging to civil rights in this country than John Ashcroft. Not because of her penchant for name-calling, but because of her propensity for ordering people killed and kidnapped.

    I stand by my statement that you’d have to be out of your freakin’ gourd to believe that a spokesman calling terrorists “immoral” is telegraphing the Pentagon’s secret desire to round up and torture gays and liberals.

  23. “You compare someone to a convicted war criminal for saying some terrorists have no morals?”

    Actually, my point was to compare one stooge in uniform who gladly puppets his boss’s political talking points to another. Though I can see how, to a non-WW2 geek, my comment could look like a standard issue Godwin violation.

    “Would it have been better if he described them as amoral killers, or would you object to that as well?” That would have been quite a bit better. It was the use of the right’s language about Democrats to describe terrorists, and the conflation of them through that language, that I’m objecting to. Of all the things to say about possible terrorists, that they lack “moral values” is pretty odd, especially given the use of the term over the past month. This was either a craven attempt to curry the president’s favor by repeating his buzzwords, a deliberate effort to link the political opposition to terrorists, or a genuine belief that people who support gay marriage and people who crash airplanes into highrises should be thought about in the same way. Pick one.

    BTW David, “Sorry, I just can’t seem to get too worked up about the fact that we use some harsh techniques against enemies of this country who think slaughtering thousands of U.S. civilians is a ticket to martyrdom.”

    The government itself has admitted that the majority of the people being held in Gitmo and subjected to this treatment shouldn’t be there. Gee, I wonder why don’t see the problem with lumping law-abiding, peaceful liberals in with terrorists.

  24. Okay RC, what evidence is there that Reno ordered the killing of anyone?

  25. “The problem isn’t the sharing of medical information itself, but that the information was shared so the torturers would better know what to do.”

    Isn’t this activity – doctors being used to make torture more effectiv – one of the horrors of the Soviet gulag depicted in “The Gulag Archipelago?”

    RC, “Well, they were anti-government and gun rights extremists. So am I, for that matter, as well as millions of other folks. I didn’t feel particularly threatened, though, because I wasn’t planning murder, assault, and armed overthrow of the government.” I think you’re transparently dishonest. You wail and gnash your teeth about gun owners being persecuted on this board evey time some political figure makes a rash comment about gun crime. Since you aren’t going to be honest, buh bye.

    “…telegraphing the Pentagon’s secret desire to round up and torture gays and liberals.” Good thing you so clearly displayed your dishonesty, because the stupidity required to interpret my comment that way would have made me feel sorry for your malformed head.

  26. fyodor,

    I suppose that depends on the definition of “great danger.” I do not believe, as the NRA, various militia groups, and numerous radio talkers said in the 1990s, that the fuzzy language indicates a desire to loose the dogs of war to kick in people’s doors and open a system of concentration camps. However, given that this government, unlike the Clinton administration, has actually adopted a policy of suspending laws and utilizing force in an extra-Constitutional manner against “domestic terrorists,” I do feel there is cause for concern when top officials start moving in the direction of linking those who disagree with them on domestic policy with terrorists. The government doesn’t often step over bright lines, so it’s good to keep the lines bright, and wrong to blur them.

  27. Gee, I wonder why don’t see the problem with lumping law-abiding, peaceful liberals in with terrorists.

    Only it’s nothing more than your interpretation to do that.

    Y’know while hanging with family over the weekend, I watched this 50’s sci-fi in which the good guy who represented America and all that was fair and good (and blonde) has a fight to the death with a bad guy and is about to win but spares him. The chick they were fighting over says to the good guy, “Why did you spare his life? He wouldn’t have spared yours?” This is the point Myers was making, that we should consider that these evil doers would supposedly (I say supposedly because I don’t know whether the prisoners in question fit the bill as Myers is so confident about) not show any of us the same consideration that bleeding heart liberals want to show them. Interesting, however, that in this cheesy movie, it was considered “good” and essential to the American way to show that consideration to those who wouldn’t show it to us. Jennifer is right, the statement’s point is to dehumanize them, but joe is going off the deep end to read more into it.

  28. Okay RC, what evidence is there that Reno ordered the killing of anyone?

    She ordered the assault on Waco.

    So, joe, what did you mean with your cryptic comment?

    I took you to mean that since the Pentagon is “torturing” people it has called “immoral”, and since the Pentagon is the tool of the evil Chimpler who also regards gays and liberals as immoral, that the torture of gays and liberals is just around the corner.

    Granted, I was filling in the yawning gaps left by your little innuendo, but I think it was a reasonable interpretation of your intent.

  29. Joe-
    Yes, that’s exactly what the Gulag doctors would do. I don’t understand why more Americans aren’t outraged by this, unless it’s because folks like RC have honestly convinced themselves that the Gitmo folks aren’t really people and thus the rules of human decency really don’t apply.

  30. My disgust with this administration is too great to articulate coherently.

  31. I don’t understand why more Americans aren’t outraged by this

    Because it’s not a big deal. Gitmo shouldn’t be operating, but disingenuously confusing that issue with this supposed “torture” doesn’t help to advance the former. Cranking up the thermostat, playing with their religious fears, and sharing medical information with interrogators doesn’t score very high in the torture scale.

  32. joe,

    However, given that this government, unlike the Clinton administration, has actually adopted a policy of suspending laws and utilizing force in an extra-Constitutional manner against “domestic terrorists,” I do feel there is cause for concern when top officials start moving in the direction of linking those who disagree with them on domestic policy with terrorists.

    Suspended laws and extra-constitutional actions are serious matters, sure ‘nough. But the link of language you cite seems purely coincidental to me and not a cause for alarm. You’d do your cause more good to focus on the former.

    RC,

    Of course she ordered the assault, which might likely qualify as wreckless endangerment, but did she order anyone killed? Not to my knowledge, and there’s a fairly huge difference.

  33. “joe is going off the deep end to read more into it.”

    You don’t see anything at all odd in the use of the term “moral values” in this context? By a top Bush administration official? One who has a reputation for spouting the administration line?

  34. RC, read my 12:27 comment. I’m not reading this as an indication of policy, but as the continuation of a dangerous intellectual trend that has been brewing among the political right for years.

    Look at how carefully the Bushies have been to distinguish Muslims as a whole from terrorists in their rhetoric. Think of the banning of the word “crusade” and the renaming of “Operation Infinite Justice.” This is a pretty stark contrast to the shady innuendo about secular American liberals, whose defining characteristic, a lack of moral values, is the same thing that allegedly motivates terrorists and justifies their abuse.

    Ideas have consequences, even if not fully formed.

  35. joe,

    I think it satisfies Occam’s Razor to interpret it the way I explained it in that same post. Which is still far from good.

  36. joe,

    I think the description of liberals and gays as having no moral values is an “intellectual trend” worthy of criticism in and of itself (if true; have top administration officials really said that??); the problem with the description of prisoners at Gitmo that way is the presumption of guilt it implies and its use for justifying questionable treatment of convicts. But the connection you’re trying to make between the two seems to get more abstract every time you try to defend it.

  37. “Because it’s not a big deal. Gitmo shouldn’t be operating, but disingenuously confusing that issue with this supposed “torture” doesn’t help to advance the former. Cranking up the thermostat, playing with their religious fears, and sharing medical information with interrogators doesn’t score very high in the torture scale.”

    You swallowed the whole bit, didn’t you?

    I would argue that there is no meaningful distinction between “cruel, inhuman and degrading” and torture, but, for the sake of argument, let’s assume there is a distinction, and it’s a question of intensity.

    Such a distinction would be comparable to the distinction between sexual assault and rape. If a defendant tears a victim’s clothes off and grinds against the victim to the point of climax, he may indeed accurately claim that he didn’t rape the victim, but so what? The defendant may not be guilty of rape, but he is most certainly guilty of sexual assault, and sexual assault is morally pathetic, disgusting and wrong.

    Oh, and, by the way, I’m not the only one who thinks that “cruel, inhuman and degrading” acts are morally pathetic, disgusting and wrong. I don’t think you want to suggest that just because something’s legal, it’s moral; but, that’s the way it looks. If slavery was legal, I would decry it as well because it’s also morally reprehensible.

    …Does that seem controversial to you as well?

  38. Coincidence? A coincidence is when two events that lack a common cause have something in common, resulting not from any actual connection, but completely by random. People’s brains do not choose words by random. He used the phrase “moral values,” because at that moment, he felt it was the best way to express his thoughts. At the moment he said those words, he seized on the phrase used to distinguish decent, red state Americans from effete coastal liberal elites. He used this phrase to distinguish terrorists from decent human beings.

    Was he deliberately working to make that connection, as part of a new Republican political offensive? Almost certainly not. But nonetheless, the language that popped into his head to explain why these people were evil, why they should be held in confinement with no due process, and why our troops should be allowed to abuse them, was language from the lexicon the right uses in this country to describe its political opponents. Think about what you know about how the human brain and its language centers work.

  39. It’s interesting that the same people who (understandably) don’t trust the government to run the public schools trust it with a deep and abiding faith to ONLY round up people guilty of aiding the Taliban. They believe, based on a mysterious conviction that when the government is doing something they like that it must be doing it extremely competently, that all the prisoners at Gitmo deserve a little degrading treatment.

    It seems to me one good reason not to allow such treatment of prisoners is an understanding, based on the repeated incompetence of the government, that some of the prisoners will inevitably be innocent.

  40. He used this phrase to distinguish terrorists from decent human beings.

    Absolutely, but…

    he seized on the phrase used to distinguish decent, red state Americans from effete coastal liberal elites.

    That’s what I doubt. Do you have any way to back that up other than to repeat it? And I don’t ask that to be pissy, but just because it’s a good question.

  41. “If you can’t understand that there are different degrees of treatment, and that people can disagree about what constitutes torture, then I can’t help you…”

    If you can’t understand that, according to the Gonzales Torture Memo and the Schlesinger Report, the Bush Administration tried to enshrine “cruel, inhuman and degrading” acts as policy, then you need to inform yourself.

    Start here with the Torture Memo:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/documents/dojinterrogationmemo20020801.pdf

    Finish off here with the Schlesinger Report:

    http://www.npr.org/documents/2004/abuse/schlesinger_report.pdf

    “Sorry, I just can’t seem to get too worked up about the fact that we use some harsh techniques against enemies of this country who think slaughtering thousands of U.S. civilians is a ticket to martyrdom.”

    Wow! Maybe we should use convicted child molesters as target practice for the military.

  42. fyodor, when you ask for “any way to back that up,” are you simply looking for citations of conservatives using the phrase or concept “lacking moral values” in reference to liberals? Because nobody’s going to bother looking those up for you.

  43. “I don’t understand why more Americans aren’t outraged by this, unless it’s because folks like RC have honestly convinced themselves that the Gitmo folks aren’t really people and thus the rules of human decency really don’t apply.”

    That’s part of it, hence the new genus in my comment way up yonder, but, another important part is fear. There are still a lot of people who think that Al Qaeda is targeting their children.

    I remember hearing a story about someone who overheard a conversation with a guard at one of the infamous concentration camps. Even as they were unloading poor, wretched victims off of freight cars, one of the guards cautioned a rookie, something like, “Make sure you keep a close eye on them; you have no idea how dangerous these Jews can be!”

    If you want people to approve of and, indeed, participate in this kind of thing, dehumanizing your intended victims is important, but I suspect that you have to have spoon feed a constant diet of fear to people too.

  44. You swallowed the whole bit, didn’t you?

    You’ll have to elucidate. I’m not on the government’s side. I don’t support the detainment of folks at Gitmo. I just want to keep the focus on the pertinent issue, rather than passing off this nonsense as “torture” and formulating something else to toss up on a placard.

    Such a distinction would be comparable to the distinction between sexual assault and rape.

    I don’t see the distinction as you do. You have a solid moral framework that you expect the rest of the world to adhere to. Good for you. However, based on the relative tepidity of the charges, to me it seems to be more propaganda in a war of rhetoric between the neo-cons and the always uber-enlightened lefties rather than anything substantive. You buy it, I don’t.

    …Does that seem controversial to you as well?

    Of course it’s not controversial; American society put that one to bed over a hundred years ago. As far as how immoral it is, I’m not sure, and neither are you, because neither you nor I have had to deal with it in our lives. Don’t go thinking there’s such a thing as objective morality.

    I don’t think you want to suggest that just because something’s legal, it’s moral

    Wrong direction. There is no relation between legality and morality. Most of us already believe that the Gitmo incarcerations are illegal. But that’s not the point of this discussion.

  45. Joe, although I value your position on this board as the loyal opposition, as it were, I think you’ve really gone off the deep end on this one.

    Here’s how I see it: a stupid hack used a buzzword. Big flippin’ deal. What we should be focusing on is how he casually ignored the growing evidence that many, if not most of those men are not in fact terrorists.

    “Wow! Maybe we should use convicted child molesters as target practice for the military.”

    Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, blow for a blow, doom for doom. Four-fold, aye, a hundred-fold returned.

  46. What specifically constitutes torture is unavoidably subjective. I think a more specific issue is whether the treatment of the Gitmo prisoners is within the bounds of decency and legality. Which is also subjective, of course, but one way to address this is to ask how we’d look at it if our own prisoners were treated in a like way. I think we’d likely see such treatment as a sign of barbarity if practiced by others on our own. But of course, I can’t prove that. Although just showing our prisoners on TV caused an uproar on our part. One could take a Machiavellan approach and say, well we’ll invoke morality and international law when it’s in our favor and blow it off when it’s not and that’s just what anyone would do, but if that’s your argument, you should make it. In sum, while there’s much worse ways to treat prisoners than how we’re treating those at Gitmo, I think our treatment violates what we normally think of as civilized and just. If you don’t care about that, I don’t know if I can convince you to. I personally think it sucks and is unjust and may very well do us harm in the long run. I’m a great believer in maintaining the moral high ground, whether in personal or international affairs. I think it commands respect, if not in the short run or among your most diehard enemies, well then in the long run and among those on the margin of being enemies or not. Being strong but fair and decent usually gets the most mileage.

  47. Jennifer, “I don’t understand why more Americans aren’t outraged by this.”

    Jennifer stop this naive act. You know that most Americans would be satisfied to simply drop a nuclear bomb on the Middle East and be done with it.

  48. “Don’t go thinking there’s such a thing as objective morality.”

    Because, lord knows, it’s obviously more logical to believe that good and evil switch places every century or so, or depend upon which arbitraily defined geographic area you live in.

  49. it’s obviously more logical to believe that good and evil switch places every century or so

    There is no such thing as good and evil.

  50. “As far as how immoral it is, I’m not sure, and neither are you, because neither you nor I have had to deal with it in our lives. Don’t go thinking there’s such a thing as objective morality.

    But I am sure!

    And I do believe in an objective morality. (God’s a libertarian, actually.) I believe that all men are created equal in that they are endowed by their creator with certain rights–rights the government may or may not be in harmony with at any given time. I also believe that “placing detainees in extremely cold rooms with loud music blaring, and forcing them to kneel for long periods of time”, stripping them naked, etc. constitutes “cruel, inhuman and degrading” acts and are clearly a violation of those aforementioned rights.

    I think that if more Americans were less afraid and used their critical thinking muscles a little more, they would also object to our treatment of prisonsers at Guantanamo on moral grounds. I also think that given some time and space, Americans in the future will look back on Guantanamo similar to the way we look back at Japanese internment camps now.

    P.S. If there is no moral objective call on the behavior at Guantanamo, then why mince the word “torture”?

  51. But I am sure!

    But that’s you. Bush and co. were sure there were WMD in Iraq, look how far that got them. As for me, I am not convinced that all men are created equal. I am not convinced that we have inherited rights simply by virtue of some Creator-God that has ordained it so. I believe our nation’s founders drew up a Constitution, and our government’s responsibility is to act in a manner consistent with that document. Incarcerating prisoners without due process indeed conflicts with that document; subjecting them to extreme cold, loud music, and female interrogators hardly seems cruel and unusual, especially since if there are any long term effects at all, they will be purely psychological.

    If there is no moral objective call on the behavior at Guantanamo, then why mince the word “torture”?

    You mean “objective moral call.” Because our form of language uses symbols to convey abstractions. The symbol itself has no inherent morality, but its use carries a connotation of illegality and “wrongness”. I am reticent to continually load concepts into the term until “torture” becomes anything that makes you squirm in your seat.

  52. Unintended consequences can be brutal.

    The somewhat amusing thing about this whole affair [to include the dialog on this thread] is that the NET result of all actions taken by ALL of the players in this drama will invariably lead to:
    a) Abandonment of the idea that we can behave in a “gentlemanly” fashion toward these people. We are not up against Lord Conwallis, Bobby lee, Kaiser wilhelm or Erwin Rommel – we are up against people Joachim Peiper would think “un-sportsman-like”.
    b) Abandonment of the notion that “interrogation” is somehow magically distinct from “torture”. If we do not ENJOY doing it, is it still torture?
    c) Shift to “field” interrogations at “remote locations”, conducted by “local allies”. How could you tell if we already have done that? How many NEW prisoners have been sent to GITMO lately?

    In short, there is likely to be one direct result of all of this well-intentioned activity by yourselves and many ‘international’ organizations:
    The lives of the Jihadi-boys we feel like capturing** will be much less conmfortable . . . and much shorter. Sadly, the quality of the intelligence may actually diminish.

    The Truth may not be Out There,
    But Reality IS.

    ** “If Intell wants prisoners, let the Intell REMFs come out of their nice office and take them personally” – pretty much what happened in the Pacific Theater in WWII when the Marines were in contact.

  53. …As I suspected. We’re not going to agree.

    I would argue that there are real people who are suffering in Guantanamo; call it torture, which is what I’ll keep calling it, or call it something else, the aspect of their suffering that I call torture is wrong.

    Locke once pointed out, and I’m paraphrasing, that there are many who benefit from God’s grace who don’t believe in its existence. I believe people’s rights exist apart from the words used to describe them, and when I see someone’s rights violated so, I make it a point to stand up and yell to anyone who will listen, “There but for grace of God goes you my brother!”

    I hope you’ll remember this if ever they come for me.

  54. especially since if there are any long term effects at all, they will be purely psychological

    Is the “purely psychological” any less real than the purely physical? Psychological effects may be less concrete or tangible, but that does not make them less real! And BTW, psychologists have found that long term stress has more lasting effects than isolated horrible events.

    Anyway, “cruel and unusual” is, like torture, ultimately subjective and in the eye of the beholder. However, I think that we never treat our own prison population in such a manner goes a long way towards demonstrating the treatment’s unusualness, at the least. Again, I think this is behavior that we would normally expect only of barbaric regimes if it were not we who were practicing it.

  55. “You compare someone to a convicted war criminal for saying some terrorists have no morals?”

    unlike everyone here, i would take issue with this. first of all, “terrorists” is too general — “islamist jihadists” is more germane.

    and, while you can accuse islamist jihadists of many things, a lack of morals is not one of them.

    that they aren’t modern western morals — yes, i agree. but they have a *very* strong morality that is better defined than almost any westerner.

    i think it’s clear, however, that most americans — including myers/kietel and the entire white house — are incapable of distinguishing between “amoral” and “different morals”.

    of course, many americans — including rst, apparently — are demonstrating that they have no conception of christian-based western morals either, and have given themselves over to the convenience of lawlessness.

    at least rst appears to have thought about it; most have not.

  56. OldFan, the professional military of today is significantly more scrupulous than the terrified draftees of World War II, and can be trusted to behave as they are ordered to a much greater degree. This is one reason why the “a few bad apples” excuse of Abu Ghraib is so unbelievable.

    Second, it is not just jihadi terrorists who will take note of our military’s treatment of captives and surrenduring troops, but the entire world. It is better for our troops if we set the bar for how they must be treated high (and expect the enemy to not quite reach it) than to set it low, and have the enemy not quite live up to that lower standard. This isn’t going to be the last war we fight, you know.

  57. folks like RC have honestly convinced themselves that the Gitmo folks aren’t really people and thus the rules of human decency really don’t apply

    I think all the Gitmo folks (ours and theirs) are really people. I also think the rules of human decency apply everywhere. Its just that different rules apply in different situations.

    For example, the “decent” way for me to interrogate my (hypothetical) 16 year old daughter about breaking curfew is different from the decent way to interrogate a suspected murderer, which is different from the decent way to interrogate an unlawful combatant.

    I’ve already expressed my discomfort with some of what is claimed by the Red Cross. I’m also not thrilled about some other aspects of how we handle alleged illegal combatants.

    What I’m trying not to lose sight of is that there are, indeed, thousands of illegal combatants roaming around out there, and that the “decent” way to deal with them does not necessarily include soft beds, a selection of channels on the wide-screen TV, and respect for their primitive and barbaric superstitions regarding women.

  58. In sum, while there’s much worse ways to treat prisoners than how we’re treating those at Gitmo, I think our treatment violates what we normally think of as civilized and just. If you don’t care about that, I don’t know if I can convince you to. I personally think it sucks and is unjust and may very well do us harm in the long run. I’m a great believer in maintaining the moral high ground, whether in personal or international affairs. I think it commands respect, if not in the short run or among your most diehard enemies, well then in the long run and among those on the margin of being enemies or not. Being strong but fair and decent usually gets the most mileage.

    agreed, mr fyodor. the antifoundational relativist seems to believe that because it isn’t “objective”, it cannot truly matter. dear oh dear, what a painfully-remedied delusion that can be.

  59. Great post, gaius.

    Andrew Sullivan links to an interesting comment Pat Buchanan makes as a guest host on Scarborough Country, in which he openly favors devout Muslims vs. secular Americans in a culture war.

  60. As for the specifics, I don’t think sharing medical information constitutes torture, nor do I think humiliating someone by forcing them to strip constitutes torture. I especially don’t think forcing Muslim men to answer questions posed by females constitutes torture. The Red Cross really dilutes their case by throwing these in.

    1. The ICRC report itself is not available to any of us. The Red Cross is not “diluting” their case with anything.

    2. The title of the article is Red Cross finds cruel treatment at Guant?namo.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross found “cruel, inhumane and degrading” treatment of detainees at the U.S. military prison…

    This is in reference to Article 5 of the UDHR: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” (The language of which can be found in several documents.)

    We have discussed the distinction several times here. I maintain, for example, that the photo of the man with the electrodes portrays “torture”, while that of the man on the leash shows “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment”.

    …some interrogation tactics come close to torture

    If the source for the article is being accurate, your comments on – your discomfort with – the Red Cross are baseless.

    You could easily make a case that being taken away from your family, getting locked in jail with a bunch of criminals for years, and being exposed to sexual assault and other violence constitutes torture. Yet we do that as a matter of course with even non-violent offenders in this country, and we don’t call it torture do we?

    I do.

  61. fyodor,

    The Phantom Planet rocks!

    “Well maybe if they didn’t disguise their planet as a Chicken McNugget, the dogs wouldn’t attack it!”

    — Crow T. Robot

  62. Ken,

    You are a good man. After I read all the comments on this page by you and the others, I know this is true. I have known you for most of my life and that is the one thing that about that I can always safely conclude.

    As another member of this board pointed out, you have a strong moral structure. And, in the end that’s what this issue boils down to.

    I don’t know what “objective morality” means. But, I’m guessing that it means, every situation is unique. Thank God.

    I decry the torture too. Don’t get me wrong. But, these soldiers who committed the torture were not told to abandon human decency. INDIVIDUALS who were given the authority to use controversial means, who obviously had no moral compass abused these controversial means. That doesn’t mean that you should not be given instructions on how to carry out controversial means to defend an APPROPRIATE SITUATION. I can’t defend what these people did. No one does. But, I’m also aware that Americans are sacrificing themselves daily to insure that we are free and I’m not going to let a handful of immoral soldiers make the world believe that it speaks for the rest of us… including Gonzales.

    I wish you would start listening to Dennis Prager on KRLA at 9:00 am. You can listen on the internet live too. Here’s what he says:

    If German prisoners in World War II had been stripped naked and humiliated to get information to save American lives, would any major American paper have published the photos during the war? On the day The New York Times reported the savage murder of Berg — in the most subdued fashion of any major paper in America (just one column on the front page, with a photo, the smallest of three front-page photos, at the bottom of the column) — its lead editorial was yet another in a series denouncing the Bush administration for prison abuses in Iraq.

    It is essential to note that it is precisely because I believe America’s role is to be a moral beacon to the world that those pictures from Abu Ghraib prison so anger me. Americans are not dying in Iraq so that other Americans can pile naked Iraqi men on each other and smile for photos next to them. The harm those pictures have done to the cause of good may be incalculable.

    But it is not moral revulsion, let alone newsworthiness, that is animating the news media. One day, a Sudanese black will scour the world press archives to find out what the world was preoccupied with while her family and hundreds of thousands of other Sudanese blacks were raped, enslaved, ethnically cleansed of their lands and murdered. She will learn the world was deeply concerned with a couple of dozen Iraqi men photographed in humiliating sexual positions.

    The best you can do is to try to live by your moral structure and vote elected officials that are guided by a similar intuition and have the best intentions for the dignity, respect and freedom for all. Do you really think that Bush does not? Or that Gonzales does not? Stop listening to the left media. Stop getting suckered into these kinds of debates that redirect your attention from what’s important.

    You are so intelligent and so good. Don’t waste those God given talents. I know you may harbor resentment towards me personally.. but I don’t think you have any for your coral moral beliefs. Listen to that.

  63. i’m not a religious man, mr joe, and i wouldn’t go so far as favoring them, even if i try to understand and empathize with them for my own edification and betterment.

    but if you wonder how i come to think that the west is now well into decadence and and a period of civilizational decline (my ‘narrative’, as it were), one has only to compare this period of relativism and nihilism to that endured by the ancients in the antonine years. is there a more appropriate ethics for our times than the detachment of stoicism or epicurianism? i think spengler quite astute in comparing those times to these.

  64. This is in reference to Article 5 of the UDHR: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” (The language of which can be found in several documents.)

    Indeed. And as I recall, the term torture is defined, and the other terms are not. The question becomes, is expecting Muslim men to answer questions from women, or disclosing their medical records to their interrogators, “cruel, inhuman or degrading”? I can’t see how anyone could honestly say so.

    So part of the bill of particulars doesn’t seem to violate any good faith reading of the UDHR.

    Forcing them to strip could be considered degrading, I suppose, but if we define “degrading” this delicately, I suspect we have created an international norm that is constantly violated by just about every country on the planet. I’m not saying that’s wrong, I’m just putting a little perspective on this.

  65. Forcing them to strip could be considered degrading, I suppose, but if we define “degrading” this delicately, I suspect we have created an international norm that is constantly violated by just about every country on the planet. I’m not saying that’s wrong, I’m just putting a little perspective on this.

    this sort of rationalization, mr dean, is what convinces me that most americans — even those cultists who believe themselves christian — are relativistic nihilists, whether they know it or not.

    what i find far more disturbing than the acts of what ms beatty called “a handful of immoral soldiers” is the eagerness of untold millions of americans to excuse them wholly.

    no moral person tries to find a way to rationalize this behavior, regardless of who it is taken against: they are outraged at the incivility of it, and demand penitent action.

    that so many are so amoral as to refuse to demand such principled behavior of themselves and their nation in arms — and yet would call themselves ‘conservative’ or even ‘christian’ — is quite telling.

  66. Hey everybody, just to put the loud music, hot rooms, and “sharing information” into perspective, has anybody here ever been “initiated” on a college football team or fraternity? I think both of mine are in violation of the geneva conventions.

  67. I swear.

    If the article had said: “The Muslims were forced to stand on one leg for an hour, eat raw pork, and undergo electric shock to the genitals”, some people would go on and on about how having to stand on one leg is not torture.

    If ever one day someone comes up with the precise number of 5,999,999 people killed in the Holocaust, revisionists all over the planet will shout with glee: “See? We TOLD you it wasn’t 6 million!”

  68. btw Gaius, I’m not excusing the behavior (especially since it’s not voluntary), but these guys aren’t getting questioned by Torquemada.

  69. and besides, as I said before… WE DON’T HAVE THE REPORT!

    A “source” – presumably someone who is in a position to have seen the report – revealed what HE chose to reveal about it.

  70. Gaius – I excuse no one. Every person accountable for their own deeds. Let me say again that what they did was not justified. It’s not okay. It’s wrong. The Holocaust was wrong.

    What happened in these prisons, was not a Holocaust. It was not okay either.

    I beleive perspective is everything. I believe the leftist media appreciates that more than anyone else and they use it deliberately to draw attention away from the truly important things.

    To compare what happened in the prisons to the Holocause not only is ridiculous.. it’s indecent and dishonors the memory of those people who died in the Holocaust.

    Don’t lose your perspective.

  71. the truly important things.

    ms beatty, respectfully, i didn’t and won’t compare this thing to systematic extermination. it isn’t, clearly. and i’m happy to hear to call it wrong.

    but if this is not a truly important thing, what is? these pictures from abu ghraib — regardless of the place you believe they should have — stand now as the definition of western amorality and decadence in the world. there’s no point in denying that. their impact is, i suspect, unimaginable to me, much less someone bent on denying their relevance. we will be contending with abu ghraib for generations — largely because it fits.

    what does it fit? the perception of the west from the world outside the fishbowl, which sees the west as a decadent civilization out of control, recklessly bent on its ideological excesses and perversions.

    Don’t lose your perspective.

    quite to the contrary, ms beatty, it is the putting of those photos *into* perspective that should give us pause. for it is the perspective i articulate there which much of the world outside — and some of us insude — holds as the likely truth, whether we wish that to be or not.

  72. Gaius – You are a wise man too. I agree with everything you say! Especially the part about the US being a fishbowl. We are. It’s our cross to bear. To that respect, we have a greater responsibility in journalism to keep things in perspective.

    I really dislike copying and pasting long passages, but I think this one from Dennis Prager hits the point better than I can make it.

    The vast majority of the world’s news media are so anti-American and so morally confused that they reported the claims of anti-American butchers as if they were facts. Nick Berg’s murderers said their butchery was revenge for American abuses in the Abu Ghraib prison, and the world’s press dutifully published this as if it were a fact (or even worse, as if it were an understandable, though admittedly extreme, act of revenge).

    Here are examples of the headlines ? not subheads ? in major American newspapers:

    “American beheaded in revenge for abuses” ? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    “Grisly Vengeance” ? The Hartford Courant
    “Militants avenge abuse with taped beheading” ? The Des Moines Register
    “Vengeance on Video” ? The Arizona Republic
    “With a Vengeance” ? Newsday (Long Island)

    Lest their readers be distracted from the real evil in Iraq ? the American treatment of Iraqi prisoners ? some newspapers actually conflated that with the Berg murder in their headline:

    “Amid prison inquiry, revenge” ? Minneapolis Star Tribune
    “U.S. civilian beheaded in Iraq; abuse responsibility in dispute” ? The Providence Journal

    On the other hand, the few non-liberal newspapers in America had very different headlines, making no mention of the “revenge” claim:

    “Terrorists Behead American” ? The New York Sun
    “Pure Evil” ? New York Daily News
    “Savages” ? New York Post
    “Bastards” ? Philadelphia Daily News

    Perhaps the starkest example of the pronounced leftist impact on news reporting is the difference between the headlines in Canada’s two major national newspapers. The headline in the liberal Globe and Mail was “Murderous revenge: U.S. hostage dies in wake of Iraq prison abuse.” The headline in the conservative National Post was “Al-Qaeda Beheads American.” Even its subhead had no connection with the supposed vengeance: “Businessman was in Iraq to help build antennas.”

    The media’s attempt to be morally neutral frequently leads to distortions of fact.

    The bottom line is that the United States of America is fighting the world’s news media as well as Islamic totalitarianism.

    Until we understand that, we have no chance of winning.

  73. no moral person tries to find a way to rationalize this behavior, regardless of who it is taken against: they are outraged at the incivility of it, and demand penitent action.

    Morality is a self-evaluation levied against one’s own actions. Externalized, it has no value.

    because it isn’t “objective”, it cannot truly matter.

    You’re painting me as the nihilist you already think I am. I didn’t say it doesn’t matter. I said I don’t believe it to be torture. I don’t believe individual “moral” evaluations of this process to be particularly binding.

    I maintain, for example, that the photo of the man with the electrodes portrays “torture”,

    The electrodes weren’t hooked up to anything. He was made to fear the electrodes, but he was never harmed by them. One of the primary arguments against torture is that a person will probably tell you anything you want to hear to stop the pain. But would a person do the same to prevent that pain? I think that’s a stretch. Fear motivates in a way that pain cannot.

    I would argue that there are real people who are suffering in Guantanamo

    Well, now there’s a truth that’s self-evident. But to be exposed to extreme cold, with probably not-so-Muslim friendly music playing on megablast, while being questioned by a woman who might know he’s a diabetic or once had his appendix removed…I’m supposed to consider that torture? That’s a bit weak.

    Gitmo is not an imprisonment in the penal sense, it’s a military detainment of people who are suspected of being active enemies of the United States. The purpose is not reform or rehabilitate the detained, but to obtain information from them.

  74. these pictures from abu ghraib — regardless of the place you believe they should have — stand now as the definition of western amorality and decadence in the world.

    Sure, if the endless 9/11 footage stands now as the definition of Muslim amorality and violence in the world. You don’t perchance call them “noble savages”, do you? It is by deep condescension that one would think only the West knows not to judge an entire nation or religion based on the actions of a clueless misguided few, even if a vast majority may privately, in their hearts, cheer for that few, perhaps even dance in the streets, for going to an extreme they might have dreamt about but would never themselves partake in.

  75. rst,

    At least some of that falls under the Convention. Now, you may not view it as torture, but the Convention does. And of course what is and is not torture has some cultural component to it as well.

  76. Those fucking, flying monkeys find me every time!

  77. c,

    Just noticed your question at 1:41 about what I was asking to be backed up and how no one was going to look stuff up for me. Specifically, I was asking joe if he could back up his claim that the reference to Gitmo lacking moral values was meant as a wink-wink reference to liberals and gays and blue-state people in general. I didn’t necessarily mean he should provide me a linked citation, although that can be useful. Any other form of persuasion might suffice as well. To be fair, it occurred to me afterwards that joe did explain his claim by insisting that the administration is always so careful about what they say that nothing could be accidental. Suffice to say I find that explanation unconvincing.

    As for conservatives saying liberals lack moral values, I did question parenthetically if any high ranking Bush administration officials have ever said such a thing. Joe is the one who made the claim as if it were common knowledge, and if he wants to convince me that it’s happened, he could provide a link that proves it if he likes. Or he could decide not to and be happy with the fact that I’m skeptical about his claim. BTW, I should add that for joe’s claim about the meaning of Myers’ words to have the meaning he claims for them, saying that liberals and gays lack moral values would need to be something that has been said by Bush Administration officials often enough that it is quite clearly the administration’s position, not something said just once or twice, and that would likely be difficult to demonstrate with links, I will admit. But that doesn’t mean it would be impossible to convince me of such. Perhaps if several people agreed with him that such was said commonly by high administration officials, I might be swayed. Who knows what might sway me? I simply expressed skepticism. What anyone else wants to do about it (including not giving a flying patootie) is up to them.

  78. Torturing:
    To bring great physical or mental pain upon (another).

    That’s it. No mention of how hot the water has to be or how long you have to kneel to cross the line from “proper” interrogation to torturing. Just that the mental or physical pain be great. So we can play semantics all day with the word but there is no question in my mind this is torture. Look, I’m afraid of heights. If you hoist me up a few stories and dangle me over the water I’m pretty much going to crack. Anguish is the key word here. I’d rather just be kicked in the nads and get it over with. In fact, mental anguish can not only be more torture than physical abuse but it can also be more effective. You see you can only beat a man so hard before he’ll tell you that his name is Quebert and he hails from deep inside the anal cavities of small gnomes indigenous only to the cheese side of the moon. Or worse, the torturee could end up with a fierce resolve to stick it out as he’ll be a hero to his fellow countrymen when they get to see the scars. There’s a certain pride in being able to gut out a beating. There’s no pride in being naked and interrogated by a Christian woman. Putting a bag over someone’s head and having them walk into walls is part of a dehumanization process geared to getting people to crack so you can build them back up. It’s awful and should not be tolerated in a civil society.

    I do believe torture can be justified. And these actions are torture. If they’re not, RC Dean and RST, can you please tell me what is?

  79. Of course it isn’t torture: it didn’t happen to me or anyone I know. And the god damned blame America first Red Cross, not to mention the Lefty Media should just keep its yap shut as well because I don’t want to have to think about this kind of stuff. Yeah, the same Lefty Media that didn?t tell us about the dead intern found in Joe Scarborough?s office during the Gary Condit / Chandra Levy scandal, or that Neil Bush was scheduled to have dinner with John Hinkley?s brother, Scott Hinkley, the evening after John shot President Reagan: I not saying anything, I?m just saying one would think the Lefty Media would have told us about these semi-important events. BTW, aren’t Mr. Bush’s and Mr. Kerry’s daughters old enough to join the military now?

  80. To compare what happened in the prisons to the Holocause not only is ridiculous.. it’s indecent and dishonors the memory of those people who died in the Holocaust.

    Nobody here that I can see has made such a comparison.

    My statement was meant as a comment on certain types of argumentation – the way some people seem – in the name of “accuracy” – to seek to defend the indefensible.

  81. raymond,

    What? Beatty make something up? No way. 🙂

  82. Geez, too much to respond to. You can’t leave one of these discussions and come back the next day.

    Just a few points: 1. The definition of torture is subjective. Cite whoever you want to back up your ideas, it still comes down to opinion. One person’s torture is another person’s rough interrogation. 2. Torture, whatever the definition, can be justified in certain circumstances (I’m not necessarily saying it is at Gitmo.) If you don’t accept that, you are a moral absolutist. 3. Foreign enemies from a nebulous terrorist network are not equivalent to U.S. citizens and are not entitled to the same rights and protections. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be treated humanely, but let’s not pretend they are U.S. citizens. 4. Arguments that the government is mistaken about some of the people at Gitmo and therefore the whole thing is illegitimate are, in my opinion, just plain silly. Of course some innocents are going to be caught in the process, just as innocents sometimes get incarcerated in the criminal justice system and sometimes even end up on death row. That doesn’t mean we stop arresting suspects. 5. As for what information we’ve gotten from Gitmo detainees and how well our methods are working… Not a single person posting here, myself included, is likely to have the slightest idea.

  83. I do believe torture can be justified. And these actions are torture. If they’re not, RC Dean and RST, can you please tell me what is?

    Oh c’mon – being interrogated by a woman is torture? Having your medical records disclosed to your jailers is torture? Get some perspective.

    Torture is being gang-raped by your jailers. Torture is being beaten and mutilated by your jailers. Torture is being starved to death. Torture is seeing these things done to your family. Torture is having your head sawed off by maniacs chanting “allahu akbar”. To use the same word to cover both genuine torture and much of what has happened at Gitmo is to devalue the word and drain the offense from real torture.

    Really, that has been my point the whole time. I’m not real happy with some things that have happened at Gitmo, but in perspective, relatively few of the individual detention/interrogation practices are arguably out of bounds. My bigger concern is with making sure the people being detained and interrogated need to be, but that is a different topic.

    Look, this is all about credibility. If you want to stop the abuses at Gitmo, focus like a laser on the actual abuses. Nattering on about privacy rights and respecting the barbaric anti-woman beliefs of these people will only hurt your case.

  84. If they’re not, RC Dean and RST, can you please tell me what is?

    Inflicting severe physical pain to coerce the interrogated to respond. What the IRC is complaining about, I call effective interrogation.

  85. “ICRC reports are confidential.”

    What the IRC is complaining about, I call effective interrogation.

    Would you please be so kind as to post your private link to the ICRC report you are speaking about with such expertise? I’d be interested in reading it. Thanks in advance.

  86. Would you please be so kind as to post your private link to the ICRC report you are speaking about with such expertise?

    If it’s wholly confidential then what are we all posting about? It is clear to any human with a three-digit IQ that we’re all talking about the publicized excerpts. If the Red Cross wants me to change my opinion, it should publicize its data detailing physical abuse, including evidence of such allegations. If not, they and you can go screw.

  87. It is clear to any human with a three-digit IQ that we’re all talking about the publicized excerpts.

    There are no “excerpts”.

    You should actually read (and try to understand) the article which is referred to in the original post. And _then_ you can get all crude and vulgar.

    You might want to take the tickle iq test again, too. It’s fun, and it’ll keep you out of trouble for a few hours.

  88. Ok, we’ll call them reports of excerpts. Or possibly a report based on someone having read the entire document. Either way, the writers have portrayed themselves as individuals who know at least in part (i.e., have seen excerpts of) the ICRC report. Is that good enough for you, Einstein?

  89. Morality is a self-evaluation levied against one’s own actions.

    ah, but i refute that, mr rst. in an age of relativism and individual primacy, we want it to be so and frequently operate under this supposition. “my morality is mine alone”, et al. it’s very emancipatory because it frees one from responsibility to anyone else’s morality.

    but morality is also a *collective* judgement — and society, if it is to exist, must have recourse to force it upon the recalcitrant. this is the reason to systematize law and government. rejecting that collective judgement by declaring morality relativistic and therefore non-binding is inherently antisocial and nihilistic.

    i submit that, in professing this belief, you expose yourself to be the nihilist (though perhaps only partially) that you may not believe you are — and i think the same to be true of great numbers of westerners.

    Sure, if the endless 9/11 footage stands now as the definition of Muslim amorality and violence in the world.

    doesn’t it? for a majority of our polity, it does. for they too judge an entire nation or religion based on the actions of a clueless misguided few, even if a vast majority may privately, in their hearts, cheer for that few, perhaps even dance in the streets, for going to an extreme they might have dreamt about but would never themselves partake in. i don’t see at all that the west knows not to do this.

    i don’t believe the peoples of islam and america to be fundamentally different in this respect; each is dimwitted and savage, no ‘noble’.

    it is the implication that we are, by virtue of our civilization, somehow qualified to view muslims as savage (and is that not what you imply?) that i disagree with. though it once may have been appropriate (just as it was once for them to view the west in this manner), from a decadent, decaying and increasingly mystical west it is no longer.

    indeed, i think our dislocation from our history — all that has transpired in the west since 1914 — has all but sealed our civilizational fate. the currency has gone out of any claim of western cultural superiority, even if popular perception has yet to catch up with that fact.

  90. Torture is being gang-raped by your jailers. Torture is being beaten and mutilated by your jailers. Torture is being starved to death. Torture is seeing these things done to your family.

    mr dean, while that is your standard (and it is a high one), that you believe that american forces have not done this is what i find incomprehensible. we recently saw footage of an american soldier summarily executing a wounded enemy. before that, we had reports of rape in abu ghraib in the *american army’s own* taguba report.

    i submit to you that, if the savagery of militants abducting and killing victims is broadcast for maximum effect, these incidents such as they occur are hidden to as great a degree as possible: if we have seen some, it is likely that such incidents are manifold even if not common. and they are (incontrovertibly, to all but the willfully obtuse) the result of policy decisions made at the highest levels of american government — and were in fact likely encouraged by same in an effort to get information at all costs, including moral costs.

  91. the writers have portrayed themselves as individuals who know at least in part (i.e., have seen excerpts of) the ICRC report.

    No they haven’t.

    “…a source who has seen portions of the report said yesterday.”

    “…the source familiar with the report said.”

    “…the source said.”

    I realize I’m being picky, but I do not find it useful (or honest) to try to denigrate the work of the CICR by misrepresentation.

    On to more interesting things.

    She [U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green] asked if a ”little old lady in Switzerland” who unknowingly gave to an Afghan charity that was an al Qaeda front could be held as an enemy combatant. Boyle [Brian Boyle, a Justice Department lawyer] said she could be, and the military could detain any foreigner who aids terrorism

    I find the above exchange particularly intriguing.

    Boyle told the judge that ”some incidents” of mistreatment had been investigated, with a handful of guards and interrogators disciplined or removed. Miami Herald

    “Mistreatment”. Hm. Now whatever could make the US gvt remove or discipline people for “mistreatment”?

  92. “Arguments that the government is mistaken about some of the people at Gitmo and therefore the whole thing is illegitimate are, in my opinion, just plain silly. Of course some innocents are going to be caught in the process, just as innocents sometimes get incarcerated in the criminal justice system and sometimes even end up on death row. That doesn’t mean we stop arresting suspects.”

    David, no one is saying we should “stop arresting suspects” We are saying that we should treat “suspects” humanely and give them the benefit of the doubt, because they ARE in fact just “suspects”. Or does that whole innocent until proven guilty thing not apply anymore?

  93. “Inflicting severe physical pain to coerce the interrogated to respond. What the IRC is complaining about, I call effective interrogation.”

    …and what you call “effective interrogation” we are calling “cruel, inhuman and degrading.”

    Word games are extremely difficult to win in a short-order, text only format. Indeed, I don’t understand why anyone would want to play.

    Need I define “hard”, “win”, “text”, “format”, “want” and “play” or do you get my point?

  94. “If you want to stop the abuses at Gitmo, focus like a laser on the actual abuses. Nattering on about privacy rights and respecting the barbaric anti-woman beliefs of these people will only hurt your case.”

    “What the IRC is complaining about, I call effective interrogation.”

    “The definition of torture is subjective. Cite whoever you want to back up your ideas, it still comes down to opinion. One person’s torture is another person’s rough interrogation.”

    It’s one thing to argue that “cruel, inhuman and degrading” acts are legally distinct from acts that are tortuous; it’s quite another to suggest that, relatively speaking, “placing detainees in extremely cold rooms with loud music blaring and forcing them to kneel for long periods of time” and “stripping them naked” simply amounts to a rough interrogation.

  95. IMPORTANT!!!

    THIS ARTICLE!

    Evidence gained by torture can be used by the U.S. military in deciding whether to imprison a foreigner indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as an enemy combatant, the government concedes.

    Statements produced under torture have been inadmissible in U.S. courts for about 70 years. But the U.S. military panels reviewing the detention of 550 foreigners as enemy combatants at the U.S. naval base in Cuba are allowed to use such evidence, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle acknowledged at a U.S. District Court hearing Thursday.

    This is imo an admission that torture is being used in Guantanamo.

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