See Spot Snarl

|

Slate has assembled a useful primer on interrogations, torture, and the law.

[Via Unqualified Offerings.]

NEXT: Pagan Parenting Prohibited

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. But what we really need is a primer on frat pranks.

  2. What fyodor said. Also, those who are sanguine about this disgrace should reconsider, out of self-interest if not ethical compulsion, since history is replete with examples of the same abuse suffered by foreign enemies of the state later being visited upon domestic dissent at home.

  3. “But for a few leaks to the press, we would never know there was a torture memo, let alone know about the links between the policies hatched in Washington and the abuses photographed in Iraq.”

    —-From the Conclusion of Slate’s Primer

    Thank God and the Constitution for the First Amendment!

    …now how do we make Rumsfeld answer for his policies and their results in public?

  4. I don’t understand the commotion. I’m not saying this out of naievte nor am I saying this in an uncaring manner, but, as a matter of fact, torture has been with us since the beginning of warfare. All sides within a war have also relied on some form of tourture and most likely always will.

    Why is this so surprising and shocking to everyone?

  5. That reminds me. Someone was claiming on a H&R thread the other day that “the allies used torture to get testimony at Nuremburg.” This was an utterly new claim to me. Can anyone point me to some substantiation?

  6. i think, mr goiter, because some people (foolishly, perhaps) aspire to be better than savages.

    but i do think that the continued blithe denials and evasions of the white house in the face of mountains of evidence and accusation are instructive as to their political character. they seem to be taking increasing refuge in fantasy and hyperbole. i especially like cheney’s reaction:

    “I think the fact of the matter is the United States has done more to advance the cause of freedom, has liberated more people from tyranny over the course of the 20th century and up to the present day than any other nation in the history of the world.”

    nothing could be more unobjective, of course, but nonetheless that’s “the fact of the matter”.

  7. “Why is this so surprising and shocking to everyone?”

    Donald Rumsfeld’s policy changes regarding the Conventions (made on the advice of Antonio Gonzalez) contributed significantly to what happened at Abu Gharib. I find it shocking that the people who made these policy blunders went largely unquestioned, in public at least. Indeed, why President Bush subsequently promoted Antonio Gonzalez to Attorney General is beyond me.

    …Also, in the past, this sort of thing wasn’t done, ostensibly, to protect me. Perhaps that’s what bothers me most? I don’t want anyone tortured to protect me.

  8. i think, mr goiter, because some people (foolishly, perhaps) aspire to be better than savages.

    I didn’t say anything about aspirations, civilized or not. I asked why they were so shocked. The reaction of shock would be characteristic of someone that wasn’t aware of the existence of such things. Are those that were shocked actually that ignorant? One only needs to look at recent history to realize that a major conflict has yet to take place in which both sides didn’t engage in torturous tactics. If 4000 years of history, up to and including the first conflict in Iraq and the entire ex-Yugoslavia mess, don’t beat it into everyone’s brains that torture is an accompaniment to war, what will?

  9. I find it shocking that the people who made these policy blunders went largely unquestioned, in public at least.

    That’s shock as a reaction to something else, not the news that revealed the torture. 🙂

  10. Wow, it looks like Slate goes up to the edge of, but basically backs away from actually outright claiming that the U.S. has ordered and condoned torture.

    “It is not true, as many in the Arab world believe, that the United States has embarked on a reckless campaign of torture and abuse of its Arab prisoners of war. But what has happened – a slow slide from coherent, consistent standards for interrogation and treatment of prisoners to a sometimes ad-hoc, occasionally brutal search for information at all costs – should warrant public outcry.” – Slate Torture Feature “Beyond the Bounds”

    However, Slate seems to avoid citing the Bush Memo on “Humane Treatment of al Qaeda and Taliban detainees” as the key decision regarding the subject.

    It seems really odd that Slate would mis-characterize something as important as the actual decision to apply Geneva Conventions to detainees who don’t legally qualify for them, while placing it amongst all of the pro- and counter-torture memos as though it weren’t the actual, official position taken by the current administration.

    As I pointed out on the previous Abu Ghraib thread:

    I don’t see how the Gonzales memo [or any of the other memoes, Slate cites] plays into this – it was counsel that was accepted as legally sound but then Bush declined to utilize it to alter how we treat detainees in the same Memo.

    There are two memoes being discussed here – DoJ’s Interrogation Policy memo advising that Geneva conventions don’t legally apply to some detainees, and Bush’s Memo on Humane Treatment of al Qaeda and Taliban detainees (which cites the Interrogation Memo).

    It is true that in Bush’s memo the DoJ conclusions were accepted that some detainees don’t legally qualify for Geneva protections. HOWEVER, Bush’s memo THEN orders Geneva-like protections DESPITE DoJ’s conclusions.

    The Bush policy memo re-inforces that the military will treat detainees humanely in accordance with Geneva – in spite of DoJ’s conclusions.

    Essentially the Bush Memo says, “Yeah, legally DoJ’s correct, but it’s a bad idea and we’re not going to exploit that legality in a way that contradicts our values as a Nation to treat detainees humanely, including those who are not legally entitled to such treatment.”

    The memo is a clear victory for those who believe any prisoner we take, illegal combatant or not & reciprocity or not, should be afforded protections in the spirit of Geneva. Certainly it doesn’t show IN ANY WAY that the abuses were ordered or condoned. Exactly the opposite, in fact.

    If the administration was trying to find a way to treat detainees in a manner that has been considered criminal for decades, why does the Memo order exactly the opposite?

    Honestly, I kept expecting a reference to a document showing that DoD (Rumsfeld, etc.) deviated from the guidance in the Bush memo, especially from the way Ken kept carrying on. I just overestimated him and failed to recognize the weakness of what he considers to be evidence of culpability at the top. (Like I said earlier, it appears to be a reading comprehension problem.)

    I still think that the actual guidance (from DoD to the field) being left out of the report is a bit hinky. But this walk back through the documents has only reinforced that there was no conspiracy to torture. Period. Nuanced arguments or not.

  11. “I just overestimated him and failed to recognize the weakness of what he considers to be evidence of culpability at the top. (Like I said earlier, it appears to be a reading comprehension problem.)”

    I encourage all of you to read the Schlesinger Report and form your own opinion.

    http://news.findlaw.com/wp/docs/dod/abughraibrpt.pdf

  12. The reaction of shock would be characteristic of someone that wasn’t aware of the existence of such things.

    well, i think, mr goiter, that one can be aware of the existence of something while believing that the thing will not manifest itself as it eventually does. one can really aspire to civility in a world where barbarity is common enough — and then be shocked when civility yields to it.

    i frankly find that shock to be a healthy symptom — it shows that some still find barbarity to be awful, and civility to still be desirable and superior. it’s when no one is surprised by barbarity that one should worry for the health of civility; indeed, i find it worrisome that so many are willing to abrogate law and decency for convenience and bloodlust.

  13. well, i think, mr goiter, that one can be aware of the existence of something while believing that the thing will not manifest itself as it eventually does. one can really aspire to civility in a world where barbarity is common enough — and then be shocked when civility yields to it.

    If that was the case, I wouldn’t be making this argument. The source of the shock was that it happened at all, which again, is ignorance at it’s zenith.

  14. it’s when no one is surprised by barbarity that one should worry for the health of civility

    Either that or one should applaud the increase in general knowledge and understanding.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.