John McCain

It's Official: Torture Is Un-American

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Finally, a reason to admire Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who knows a thing or two about torture, as a legislator:

The Republican-led Senate voted overwhelmingly last night to impose restrictions on the treatment of terrorism suspects, delivering a rare wartime rebuke to President Bush.

Defying the White House, senators voted 90-9 to approve an amendment that would prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held….

The proposal, sponsored by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, also requires all service members to follow procedures in the Army Field Manual when they detain and interrogate suspects. Bush administration officials say the bill would limit the president's authority and flexibility in war.

Whole thing here.

More about McCain and torture here.

Earlier this year, Reason's Matt Welch explained why you'd never see the secret stash of Abu Ghraib photos here. Last year, he did a survey of what conservative commentators did and did not consider torture here.

And I discoursed on the Betty Grable of the Iraq War, Lynndie England, while asking who's really responsible for Abu Ghraib here.

NEXT: Spending Overdose

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  1. We are deeply disappointed by the Senate’s attempt to limit the latitude of our troops in the field. As makers of high-quality electrodes with genital-sized clips, we are proud to provide our troops with the tools they need to get the job done. We will be taking our case to the House and the President, strongly urging them to support our troops and reject this misguided piece of legislation.

    Tom DeLay might be out of the leadership, but we lobbyists remain.

  2. Who were the nine senators who voted in favor of torture?

  3. Defying the White House, senators voted 90-9 to approve an amendment that would prohibit the use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held.

    Unless they’re held in Phoenix, by the Senator’s constituents. If only there were some sort of constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment that could be enforced.

  4. Am I the only one who is vaguely disturbed by this, especially the part about soldiers having to follow the procedures in their own manual?

    Maybe I am way off base (distinct possibility–only on 4th cup of coffee), but isn’t passage of ths amendment essentially saying “you don’t have to obey the rules unless we make a rule saying you have to obey the rules”?

  5. And, if that be the case, then can I murder my next-door neighbour? I know it’s illegal, but there’s no law saying I have to obey the law.

  6. Maybe I am way off base (distinct possibility–only on 4th cup of coffee), but isn’t passage of ths amendment essentially saying “you don’t have to obey the rules unless we make a rule saying you have to obey the rules”?

    Maybe it’s more like “Despite what Gonzales and the President would have you believe, the rules are still in effect.”

    I’m glad this passed, but it’s still pretty damned sad when the Senate has to go so far as to pass a bill saying “Americans aren’t supposed to torture people.”

  7. JMoore:

    Only if you’re an appendage of the state. If you’re only a “civilian,” then you better obey everything they say, as well as everything they mean. And you better not question this requirement anymore, or you might receive a call from your local DEA SWAT team.

  8. Be right back…gotta go answer the door

  9. Who were the nine senators who voted in favor of torture?

    Here is the breakdown from my fave source 4 news and views:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1497443/posts

  10. JMoore is exactly right. Since when did we have to pass a law saying that people have to obey the law? “We really really mean it, no torture. See, we just passed another law saying you can’t do it”

    This is going to give the administration another excuse to say it did nothing wrong; and it’s going to give Congress an excuse to ignore the whole issue, now that they’ve “fixed” it.

  11. Holy Christ. Those comments on the Freeper board were downright terrifying. “If this passes, we’ve lost the war?” “The senators who voted for this are traitors?”

  12. Who were the nine senators who voted in favor of torture?

    NAYs —9
    Allard (R-CO)
    Bond (R-MO)
    Coburn (R-OK)
    Cochran (R-MS)
    Cornyn (R-TX)
    Inhofe (R-OK)
    Roberts (R-KS)
    Sessions (R-AL)
    Stevens (R-AK)

  13. I fear that Bush may finally discover his veto pen…

  14. Who were the nine senators who voted in favor of torture?

    Jennifer…spinmiester.

    They voted in favor of deference to the executive branch, under the premise that the branch should have full discretionary authority over the management of the military. I think this is a faulty position to have, but the spin is unwarranted.

  15. Can someone tell me how Lyddie England was prosecuted if this law didn’t exist yet?

  16. Can someone tell me how Lyddie England was prosecuted if this law didn’t exist yet?

    She was prosecuted under the special MESPGA clause (Make an Example of Somebody and the Problem Goes Away).

  17. Stevens (R-AK)

    Jennifer,
    I heard this guy on NPR this morn. He’s the Robert Byrd of Alaska.

  18. Those comments on the Freeper board were downright terrifying.

    Jennifer, why do you hate freedom?

  19. They voted in favor of deference to the executive branch if the executive branch decides torture is a useful tool, under the premise that the branch should have full discretionary authority over the management of the military even if that means violating the Constitution and everything this country supposedly stands for.

    There, MP, I fixed your statement for you.

  20. There, MP, I fixed your statement for you.

    Thanks, but there is no Constitutional violation when the military tortures foreign nationals/POWs on foreign soil.

  21. there is no Constitutional violation when the military tortures foreign nationals/POWs on foreign soil.

    Amendment 8:
    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    Where is that amendment qualified by phrases like “on US soil” or “to US citizens only?”

  22. Forget about whether the US Constitution bars torture. It seems to me that Congress is well within its power to make laws concerning the conduct of the armed forces, regardless of where they might be operating. That is, if you believe that the armed forces should be subject to the rule of law rather than the whim of one person.

  23. The 8th amendment also doesn’t mention the United States government, so I suppose we have the legal right to throw into the slammer any judge in any country who imposes “excessive bail”, “excessive fines”, or “cruel and unusual punishment”.

  24. That is, if you believe that the armed forces should be subject to the rule of law rather than the whim of one person.

    If you do, then you must be a TRAITOR!!! I bet that you don’t even have any flag-colored stickers on your car, either….

  25. If they’re banning torture, why is it still legal to show Ted Kennedy’s face on TV?

    That is cruel and unusual.

  26. Where is that amendment qualified by phrases like “on US soil” or “to US citizens only?”

    Preable – “We the People of the United States…”

    Article IV Section 2 – “..Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”

    Amendment XIV – “…privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”.

    It seems to me that Congress is well within its power to make laws concerning the conduct of the armed forces, regardless of where they might be operating.

    Yes, this is a clearly enumerated power.

    Article I Section 8 – “To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;”.

  27. downright terrifying

    Part of why I left for Canada instead of wasting money on a gun.

  28. Thoreau:
    Congress is not only within is power to make those laws, it is explicitly granted that power (article 1, section 8, clause 14).

    Can someone explain clause 12 of that same section to me:

    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years

    Has this been superceded somewhere?

  29. JMoore, Ugh,

    “Maybe I am way off base (distinct possibility–only on 4th cup of coffee), but isn’t passage of ths amendment essentially saying “you don’t have to obey the rules unless we make a rule saying you have to obey the rules”?”

    It is not. This analysis leaves out a step. First, the Army manual prohibits torture. The, the Bush administration authorizes soldiers to violate the Army manual. Then the Senate passes a law overruling the interpretations and administrative regulations from the White House, as they are allowed to do. JMoore, you haven’t actually received a memo from the White House authorizing you to murder your neighbor, have you?

    jf, the torture-authorizing policies of this administration do not allow prisoners to be tortured anywhere, at any time, for any reason. Your question is akin to asking “If soldiers are allowed to kill people, how come that Air Force guy in the 70s got prosecuted for murder?”

  30. Can someone explain clause 12 of that same section to me:

    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years

    Has this been superceded somewhere?

    It just means that each Congress gets a change to appropriate money to raise and support armies.

  31. Thanks, bandini. I was reading that clause differently (and incorrectly).

  32. It just means that each Congress gets a change to appropriate money to raise and support armies.

    It also means that true libertarians get a regular crack at rolling back this popular, but wasteful, gov’t program.

  33. MP-Forget the Constitution. Torture is morally repugnant and practicaly ineffective regardless of whether or not the 8th Amendment applies to non-citizens.

  34. Torture is morally repugnant and practicaly ineffective regardless of whether or not the 8th Amendment applies to non-citizens.

    I’m not arguing that point today.

  35. Forget the Constitution.

    That’s all we need, for libertarians to adopt this attitude.

  36. Jennifer needs to spend more time studying Constitutional law before she embarassas herself further.

  37. I’ll bet most folks never did a cost-benefit analysis in their own head about torture before Bush made terrorists into an “extra-constitutional” class. Even now, most probably haven’t.
    But, perhaps the most significant thing out of all this is that torture has a high cost and extremely low benefit.
    If revenge had never clouded minds–or alleged minds, in the case of Bush–we should have learned this long ago.

  38. Hakluyt Sim-

    Ever see the movie “Simone”? I went with a friend from my department to see it. Silly us, we thought it would be a scifi story. Instead, it was a chick flick with a veneer of scifi.

  39. Hakluyt Sim,
    Personally, I’d prefer the plain language of the Constitution to “Constitutional law”. Jennifer is right about what the Constitution actually says, in spite of how routinely it is ignored. I see nothing embarrassing in that.

  40. Warren-

    I’m pretty sure that Hakluyt Sim is just having some fun here, and should not be taken literally.

  41. of the nine against, most frightening was this quote:

    But Sen. Jeff Sessions (news, bio, voting record), R-Ala., called the legislation unnecessary. “We do not have … systematic abuse of prisoners going on by our United States military,” he said.

    no one up there is stupid enough to be in such deep denial anymore, it seems to be, with captain fishbacks now popping up everywhere. it begs the question: why is sessions so incredibly loyal to the president as to lie through his teeth on the record?

  42. of the nine against, most frightening was this quote:

    But Sen. Jeff Sessions (news, bio, voting record), R-Ala., called the legislation unnecessary. “We do not have … systematic abuse of prisoners going on by our United States military,” he said.

    that’s excellent logic — it’s not happening, therefore it should be allowed

  43. gaius:

    CNN has a slightly different version

    Sessions said the McCain amendment was unnecessary, since those responsible for the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib “are being held to account.” He said he did not believe he questioned Fishback’s integrity, and he said senators who questioned whether abuses were sanctioned by top officers or the Pentagon should consider an apology.

    “To suggest to the world that we have as systemic pattern of abuse in the military is not true,” he said.

    While I still disagree with Sessions, it does sound (slightly) more like he is standing on principal rather than being “so incredibly loyal to the president as to lie through his teeth on the record”.

  44. Hmm, formatting got screwy.

    And, after reading it, it actually sounds at best like Sessions is more concerned with not giving the rest of the world rhetorical ammo against the U.S. than actually fixing possibly systemic abuses in the military.

  45. JMoore et al,

    For a relevant and interesting piece on rules about rules (about rules about rules about rules), take a peek at Lewis Carroll’s “What The Tortoise Said To Achilles.”

    Cheers

  46. jf,

    Forget the Constitution.

    That’s all we need, for libertarians to adopt this attitude.

    I think the point was that torture is immoral regardless of whether the Constitution specifically forbids it on non-citizens on foreign soil. I see nothing unlibertarian in wanting to limit the government more strictly than even the Constitution does or in giving reasons for limiting government action other than “the Constitution says so” (which may be especially useful when it’s unclear if the Constitution does indeed say so in a particular circumstance).

  47. Where is that amendment qualified by phrases like “on US soil” or “to US citizens only?”

    I think it’s implied by the war powers.

    The fifth amendment says “No person shall be… deprived of life…without due process of law,” but no one would seriously argue that this prohibits the armed forces of the United States from killing the enemy. It would be entirely constitutional to kill the entire population of Iraq and Afghanistan. I think it’s also therefore constitutional to just torture a few of them.

    (Given the surprisingly large number of my fellow Americans who think torture is just fine, I feel the need to explain that I think torture is very, very bad and should not be permitted.)

  48. Fyodor,
    Thanks for making that true libertarian point. It has been in the back of my mind for awhile now.

  49. Fyodor-Yes, that was precisely my point. Jennifer and MP were going back and forth about whether the Constitution applies for non-citizens, I was suggesting that the question doesn’t matter for the purposes of the current discussion.

    But I think Hak Sim knew that and was just being a smart-ass.

  50. I’m surprised by the apparent attitude that “the government can do whatever it wants–so long as the Constitution doesn’t expressly forbid it.”

    Sigh. Where’s Mona to bitch about real libertarians when you need her?

  51. even if he said the former, mr jf, he also said the latter. whatever one thinks about the internal inquiries that stopped at lynndie england, he’s also denying on the record that the systemic abuses — which are so well established that we have an evidenced (photographically and testimonially) global network of prisons, jets and extraordinary renditions, as well as legal opinions from within the white house clearing hte ground for it all — exist.

    i find it hard to characterize that as anything but one of the following two things: deep, deep denial, or lying in the interests of currying favor. as i said, i don’t think sessions stupid enough to be in that kind of denial. (though many workaday nro and freeper hacks may be.)

    i think there is principle, however warped and tyrannical, in some senators’ expressed opinion that the senate (or any branch of government, for that matter) should not attempt to exercize any check on the executive — i think “deference” is how they now euphemize caesarism. however, sessions isn’t expounding it.

  52. I think the point was that torture is immoral regardless of whether the Constitution specifically forbids it on non-citizens on foreign soil. I see nothing unlibertarian in wanting to limit the government more strictly than even the Constitution does or in giving reasons for limiting government action other than “the Constitution says so” (which may be especially useful when it’s unclear if the Constitution does indeed say so in a particular circumstance).

    Yes, fyodor, you are absolutely correct. I allowed myself to get caught up that very stupid distracting argument about whether or not the Constitution prohibits mistreatment of non-citizens outside our borders (it doesn’t). That’s not the point. The point is that it is wrong.

  53. I’m surprised by the apparent attitude that “the government can do whatever it wants–so long as the Constitution doesn’t expressly forbid it.”

    You brought up the Constitution, not me. And I see no evidence of any such attitude.

  54. It would be entirely constitutional to kill the entire population of Iraq and Afghanistan. I think it’s also therefore constitutional to just torture a few of them.

    i’d agree, mr windypundit — however, the constitution does imply that we are bound by the treaties we make and ratify — among them, the geneva conventions.

    however, even if one totally abdicates our responsibility to our sworn word, i really don’t think the issue is constitutional so much as statutory.

    and i think that, if you try to interpret the constitution as a set of objective laws — devoid of a moral perspective, which would clearly make torture impossible — you are destined to destroy yourself. no law without an underlying morality means much.

  55. gaius:

    whose morality? many on the republican-right side would claim that the values we are attempting to spread through the barbaric hinterlands of the middle east are important enough to violate the rights of a small number of people. in other words, they feel that the omelet they are preparing to serve is worth a few broken eggs.

    by way of comparison, the morality of the democratic-left leads to such ideas as welfare, which proved to only perpetuate the state of poor minorties in this country. i’d rather that the consitution be interpreted for the words it contains, and let the laws which pass constitutional muster reflect the underlying national morality as it exists at the time.

  56. jf, in the realm of morality, a failed attempt to do good is more more elevated than a successful attempt to do evil. Or even to successfully do evil in an attempt to achieve a greater good.

  57. Does the Bible say anything about torture? Whatever, *my* morals tell me it is wrong.

  58. a failed attempt to do good is more more elevated than a successful attempt to do evil

    Worthless rhetoric. Most likely, virtually everyone thinks they’re doing good. Hell, Osama’s probably the world’s biggest idealist!

  59. I agree with joe.

    Gold stars and A+’s for everyone who tried!

  60. thoreau,

    It looks like the president may discover his veto pen.

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Friday threatened to veto a $440.2 billion defense spending bill in the Senate because it wasn’t enough money for the Pentagon and also warned lawmakers not to add any amendments to regulate the treatment of detainees or set up a commission to probe abuse.

  61. Whatever, *my* morals tell me it is wrong., a quote from “I. Atheist”

    Why should your morals matter? Why should you spend any time listening to what your morals have to say? Aren’t your morals just atavistic impulses that happened to be compatible with survival back in the conditions of the caveman world? And shouldn’t you be free to leave all that behind in the modern world (where good survival strategies may bear little or no resemblance to what was good for the primitive caveperson)?

  62. warned lawmakers not to … set up a commission to probe abuse

    Wow – what hubris.

    This could be an interesting knock-down, drag-out fight – the pres against 90 senators…

  63. Like appointing his horse the Supreme Court, Bush will veto the defense bill, just to rub the faces of those who dissent in his power.

  64. whose morality?

    nothing to characterizes the decadence and decline of the west into internecene warfare and amorla rationalization than the splintering of some common understanding of morality.

    when there is actually an argument about what morality underlies the most important issues of the day, our society has little choice but to devolve into relativism, stagnation and ultimaely collapse.

  65. free to leave all that behind in the modern world

    the clarion call to a life of perpetual revolution and destruction, mr w. tell me — when we’re done destroying everything we once held sacred — what will be left? and, if anything, will we then destroy it too as insufficiently emancipated?

  66. A country founded on the notion of individual rights and freedom from government oppression now says it can invade other countries on false pretenses and commit acts of torture once there. Great.

  67. what hubris

    testament to the already grossly exaggerated powers of the executive, mr rhywun, is the likelihood that these warnings will be heeded.

    i commend the senate — more particularly, the mccain 14, the sect which took control of the agenda there in the filibuster fight and has since maintained it — in actually rising to bluster in the face of the emperor for a moment.

    now, we’ll see exactly how weak they are — i’d expect the administration to work harder than ever to destroy this rival seat of power. while part of me remains wishful, my pragmatic side sees little chance for them to hold together in the face of the bush/santorum/frist/delay ownership of k-street. the white house will go after their money and their credibility immediately.

  68. fyodor,

    “Most likely, virtually everyone thinks they’re doing good. Hell, Osama’s probably the world’s biggest idealist!”

    First, “idealist” and “moral” are not the same thing. Many idealists purposely ignore what they know to be right and wrong.

    And second, no matter how important people think their omelette is, it comes down to one, or two, people in a darkened room, doing things to a third person with wires, and bats, and vices, and blades, as he begs them to stop. Those people know what they’re doing is wrong.

  69. Jennifer, let me fix that for you:

    “A country founded on the notion of individual rights and freedom from government oppression now says it can invade other countries while waving the standard of individual rights and freedom from government oppression, and commit acts of torture once there.”

  70. Actually, I’m going to back off of my criticism of joe’s distinction between a failed effort to do good versus a successful attempt to do evil. While it’s meaningless in one context, from the POV of the doer, since most all people think they’re doing good, it’s not necessarily meaningless in judging others’ actions, at least among those who agree on what’s right or wrong.

    I think the distinction is also a good way to boil down the answer to the perrennial quesion of why Communists don’t have as bas a rep as Nazis. It’s because they’re seen as having noble intentions that just somehow go wrong, whereas Nazis are seen as inherently evil. Not that Communists should be be seen as attempting good any more than Nazis, but I think that’s largely how many see the difference, rightly or wrongly.

    As this example shows, however, it’s a problematic distinction, at best.

  71. Joe, when you fixed my statement, you forgot the part about how we’re torturing people whom we saved from an oppressive government that used to torture them. But mea culpa es su culpa, I guess.

  72. Those people know what they’re doing is wrong.

    How do you know that? And what makes you think terrorists don’t firmly believe that they’re in the right?

  73. fyodor,

    Even seen one of those “suicide bomber” videos?

    The impression is of people trying way too hard to convince themselves.

    Unless you are a sociopathic serial killer type, you don’t escape the knowledge that killing innocent women and children is wrong.

  74. nothing to characterizes the decadence and decline of the west into internecene warfare and amorla rationalization than the splintering of some common understanding of morality

    gaius, when was there ever not “internecene” [sic] warfare? When did some “common understanding of morality” ever prevent this?

  75. fyodor:

    I don’t know if you meant to, but you’ve clarified the argument I was trying to make in response to gaius. I don’t think moral interpretations of the Constitution, or moral addenda, are desirable or necessary, because without a firm definition of the morality to be used, unintended consequences can and will emerge.

    joe:

    So? Again, my whole point is that different people have different views of what is “moral” and what isn’t. I don’t want to be in the position we are now, where some politician’s moral imperitive to protect America/spread democracy/whatever puts us in the situation we are now.

  76. “Torture is morally repugnant and practicaly ineffective”

    Morally repugnant yes, ineffective no. Torture hasn’t been a favored interrogation tactic throughout the world for thousands of years because of its ineffectiveness. It is extremely effective at eliciting specific, verifiable information. Even the mere threat of torture can produce information from those not trained or mentally-equipped to resist. Just one example:

    Insurgent is captured after detonating an IED. Interrogator asks, “where is your weapon stockpile”? When no answer is given torture starts. The prisoner has three options: 1) say nothing and continue to be tortured until he can’t stand it anymore and has to take option 2 or 3. 2) Lie. If he lies, the lie in this case will be discovered when the false location is investigated. 3) Tell the truth and give a correct location, which can then be found.

    Making a utilitarian argument against torture is pointless. There is far too much evidence of its effectiveness under certain circumstances, even when employed by amateurs, let alone trained, professional torturers.

    Back to Congress.. “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held….” They are going to have to be a bit more specific. This goes to the whole “what is torture?” question. How is this bill going to stop the administration from simply arguing what they are doing is applying harsh interrogation techniques that they don’t consider cruel, inhuman or degrading?

  77. joe,

    I was about to make fun of the subjective nature of your evidence, but obviously (or at least hopefully) you’re well aware of that. So I’ll simply say I read human nature very differently. There’s an infinite number of reasons terrorists may appear to be “trying way too hard to convince themselves,” such as merely a different style of expression in their society, but even if I give you that it maybe has anything to do with your interpretation, it could just as easily just mean that they’re aware that there are those who think that what they’re doing is wrong. But it still doesn’t mean that they think that.

  78. i think that these people do know that they intent to do wrong, mr fyodor, whatever they declaim. and they express the truth of that assertion in the fanaticism of their actions — for fanaticism is nothing if not the repression of great angst seeking an outlet.

    but, regardless of intention, i think that the only reliable conception of real morality is the catholic one (and thence the hellenic one, of which the church became guardian): good acts secure good morals, and intentions count for very little indeed.

    it was in kant that good acts became philosophically divorced from morality, and western morality has been in a tailspin since that time — whether kant tapped into a current of his time or created the current, it matters not.

  79. i think that these people do know that they intent to do wrong, mr fyodor

    though i should be quick to allow that they may not be conscious of what they know.

  80. jf,

    I probably haven’t read every post, and I’m not sure what bearing what I said about morality has on the points you’ve taken issue with gaius on, but I’ll venture the very general point that every law has both its letter and its spirit, and each is relevant in its own sphere. Whether agreeing on the “spirit” of a law and its possible relevance to a case means agreeing on its underlying morality, I’ll leave to those who get make a living pondering such stuff! 🙂

  81. gaius,

    You’re a riot! 🙂

  82. i should say, on reflection, its too simple to say inention counts for nothing — rather, i should say that good ends cannot be morally forwarded by acts of disorder, and that evil ends are not made good by acts that could, in another context, be orderly.

  83. Fyodor – It was back in the time of the Neutrality Agreement between tribal leaders Ag and Oog. Things fell apart when stones were discovered.

  84. You’re a riot! 🙂

    tip your waitresses, mr fyodor. 🙂

  85. saw-whet,

    Was that before or after Kant?

  86. I’ve came out big on this issue.

    It feels good to see the Senate stiff arm the proposition that there’s a difference between torture and “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment.

    …I wish they’d found the courage to deny the office of Attorney General to one of the men responsible for making that distinction famous.

  87. Immanuel Kant, the old pissant?

  88. OK, OK. Here’s another way to look at it. In days of yore (WW II ish) torture was undesirable because no one wanted to be tortured themselves and we wanted to have fighters return home in sufficient shape to resume normal lives when the hostility ended. But now, yes now, we have big dick cheney calling for perpetual war. Actually he said the war on terror would last decades. Same thing.

    Soooo…if hostilities never end and we have overwhelming superiority, who gives a fuck? Clearly the only reason to be against torture nowadays is because it is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong and anyone engaging in it is a sadistic bastard who deserves to have his teeth punched out. And then sent to jail of course.

    End of discussion. Turn the lights out fyodor, Tom and gaius.

  89. “the clarion call to a life of perpetual revolution and destruction, mr w. tell me — when we’re done destroying everything we once held sacred — what will be left? and, if anything, will we then destroy it too as insufficiently emancipated?”

    Gaius, I’d say it’s a sure bet that there will be motorcycles, crossbows, and lots of stylish leather ensembl?s accented with shiny metal spikes or football pads spray painted black.

  90. I look forward to “the Thunderdome era”. I only hope that I still have enough youth left to hold my own, and that I don’t have to fight dhex, he’s a big guy.

  91. Wrong, wrong, wrong and anyone engaging in it is a sadistic bastard who deserves to have his teeth punched out. And then sent to jail of course.

    If you need that, then fine, that’s right.

    …and it speaks to national character. There’s some things we just don’t do. …at least as a matter of policy.

    It’s like slavery. Slavery could be the most efficient economic system ever known to man–that wouldn’t matter to me. I’d still be against it ’cause it’s wrong, wrong, wrong.

    P.S.

    Clearly the only reason to be against torture nowadays is because it is just wrong.

    …I should say, not that there aren’t other reasons to be against it.

  92. David, depending on your height, perhaps you could just ride perched on dhex’s shoulders.

  93. gaius-

    How is the baby?

  94. How is the baby?

    Busily learning the ins and outs of using a sharpened, blade-tipped boomerang no doubt.

  95. Perfectly good, and Constitutional, piece of legislation. I’m all for it.

    Torture bad. Bush bad. War bad. Senate good (just this once anyway).

    Does that pretty much some up the previous 70-odd posts?

  96. Gaius – JR Tolkien used to terrorize passersby at Oxford by dressing up as a Medieval warrior and merrily slashing at them with his broadsword. Do have some of that action going on in your life?

  97. stylish leather ensembl?s accented with shiny metal spikes or football pads spray painted black.

    i better get that nitrous package put into my car now, then.

    Busily learning the ins and outs of using a sharpened, blade-tipped boomerang no doubt.

    not old enough to grasp objects yet — but when she is, you bet. 🙂

    Do have some of that action going on in your life?

    too busy figuring out the boomerang at the moment, mr saw-whet.

  98. David C., you’re apparently assuming that the torturers have the right person in the first place. “Where are the bombs?” only yields effective information if you snagged an insurgent and not some other poor bastard whose only crime was being in the area. There’s even evidence that innocent people are more likely to be tortured because they don’t yield information.

  99. So after civilization implodes, we get… Raiders Nation?

    Sounds about right. They’ve still got an inferiority complex from getting beat down by my “Stillers” in the 1970s though.

    You can have your studded leather jackets and whatnot, as long as I have my Terrible Towel.

  100. Check out the innocence project and their studies on false confessions after “intense” interrogations by police. Now, leaving aside whether “intense” interrogations are good or bad, they are clearly NOT torture, at least not compared to what we know about what we’re doing in Iraq and Guantanamo.

    Seems to me, there is quite a bit of evidence that torture is counter-productive – all the false positives and suggested answers will create an awful lot of “noise” to sift through in the information you get from prisoners. And that’s not even getting into the intentional lies and misinformation issue.

  101. I’ve often wondered: do Oakland goths and Raiders fans have an odd sort of camraderie?

  102. Gaius, well done. 🙂

  103. there was a really short guy from some terrible laptop warp act a few years back opening for autechre that my friends and i heckled the whole time, screaming “more bass blaster master!”

    i’d make a pretty good blaster. i’m pretty handy with a sledge.

  104. “David C., you’re apparently assuming that the torturers have the right person in the first place. “Where are the bombs?” only yields effective information if you snagged an insurgent and not some other poor bastard whose only crime was being in the area. There’s even evidence that innocent people are more likely to be tortured because they don’t yield information.”

    True but irrelevant. Obviously if you have the wrong person who knows nothing about things you want to know, you aren’t going to get useful information out of them by any interrogation method, including torture.

  105. Is Bush vetoes it they couldn’t Congress override it? Or wouldn’t there not be enough will to do that?

  106. That depends upon the margin in the House of Representatives, the other house of congress.

    Also, there might be special rules on spending bills or something like that — but I also think a 90-9 margin overrides anything, anyway. But, again — the margin in the house is the thing.

    My hazy recollection is that the default standards for overriding are two thirds of each house of Congress, but real uncertain here.

  107. Torture bad. Bush bad. War bad. Senate good (just this once anyway).

    Does that pretty much some up the previous 70-odd posts?

    You left out, “Gonzales bad.”

  108. If they ban torture, only criminals will engage in torture!

    Torture doesn’t kill people–people who torture kill people.

    Um…

    First they took the torturers away, and I said nothing…

  109. If they ban torture, only criminals will engage in torture!

    Torture doesn’t kill people–people who torture kill people.

    Um…

    First they took the torturers away, and I said nothing…

  110. “True but irrelevant. Obviously if you have the wrong person who knows nothing about things you want to know, you aren’t going to get useful information out of them by any interrogation method, including torture.”

    Of course, if you get the wrong guy and don’t torture him, well it sucks to be him, since he’s in jail. If we do get the wrong guy and torture him, let’s hope he’s one of those guys who are into crippling pain.

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