What are "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment"?

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The Washington Post reports that the Bush Administration is proposing to amend the War Crimes Act to "eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading war prisoners." Such acts are prohibited by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that Common Article 3 does apply to U.S. personnel.

Common Article 3 also protects prisoners of war by prohibiting violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; hostage-taking; and summary execution. At a minimum torture means inflicting severe physical pain and is clearly prosecutable. But what constitutes an "outrage"? The Post points out that the international tribunal prosecuting Yugoslav war crimes has defined "outrages" to include placing prisoners in "inappropriate conditions of confinement," forcing them to urinate or defecate in their clothes, and threatening them with "physical, mental, or sexual violence." What about some other interrogation techniques that some U.S. personnel have reportedly or allegedly used?

For example is it outrageous to put panties on a prisoner's head? Or to flush a Koran down a toilet? Or for that matter to flush a consecrated host down a toilet? Allow women interrogators to rub their bodies against male prisoners, wear skimpy clothes in front of them, and make sexually explicit remarks to them? Interrogate prisoners while they are naked? Force them to wear Depends diapers?

Certainly most of these actions would be "outrages" in the context of civil law enforcement, but should different standards apply during a war? Try this thought experiment: Would using similiar sorts of interrogation techniques on American prisoners of war be "outrageous" and constitute a war crime? If so, then they violate Common Article 3 and people using them should be prosecuted.

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  1. Is it outrageous to put panties on a prisoner’s head? No, that’s called “burlesque.”
    Or to flush a Koran down a toilet? Hell no.
    Allow women interrogators to wear skimpy clothes in front of them? Who’s complaining?
    Interrogate prisoners while they are naked? The interrogators or the prisoners?
    Force them to wear Depends diapers? Again, who doesn’t enjoy burlesque?

  2. It would seem that the administration believes these things are outrages — or else it wouldn’t need to eliminate the risk of prosecution.

    You don’t give immunity to innocent people. If they really believed that what they were doing did not violate the War Crimes act, then they should be saying “bring it on” to the potential prosecutions and looking forward to the day when we can once and for all prove that these were nothing more than pranks that are no more serious than college hazing.

    I dunno if the things that is listed constitutes those outrages. But the actions of those in power are the actions of a guilty party. Pre-emptive immunity?? Who does that if they feel they are on solid legal footing?

  3. Right, Tom, because no country in Europe would want to try to embarrass the U.S. and persue a political prosecution.

    No siree.

  4. Pre-emptive immunity?? Who does that if they feel they are on solid legal footing?

    In our new world disorder, and pending November election outcomes (which presumes Congress might not approve of changes to the law), could the pres or admin members be charged with War Crimes? If convicted, in what court? Convicted or not, would those not be grounds for impeachment?

  5. How about this rule. Anything that damages you physically or causes physical pain is off limits. Anything that humiliates you because of your deeply held religous beliefs is just fine. Beating the crap out of someone or making them piss their pants is torture. Flushing the koran down the toilet or having a female rubbing up against them is not. That sounds fair to me. Frankly, when I start my free market terrorist group, any of the members who will actually crack upon seeing a copy of The Wealth of Nations being flushed down a toilet will be sumarily executed before the government can capture then anyway.

  6. Flushing the koran down the toilet or having a female rubbing up against them is not.

    Is it equally acceptable to have a man rub his body against a female prisoner, do you think?

  7. Why not Jennifer as long as it doesn’t raise to the level of sexual assault?

    One other point about the Koran. It is perfectly legal for me to go out in front of a mosoque and step on the Koran or piss on it for that matter. It may be illegal for me to piss in public, but the fact that it is on the Koran is not what makes it illegal. Considering that every American has the First Amendment right to desecrate the Koran as they see fit, how could doing so in front of a prisoner ever be torture?

  8. Right, Tom, because no country in Europe would want to try to embarrass the U.S. and persue a political prosecution.

    Well since the War Crimes Act allows for defendants to be prosecuted in US courts — this line of argument is completely irrelevant. We aren’t talking about the ICC or international laws, this is a US law about US courts. And I may be wrong here, but I believe that the Justice Department has to bring the charges.

    The War Crimes Act affords access to U.S. civilian courts for abuse perpetrated by former service members and by civilians.

  9. JOHN =

    Read the economist special issue on this, Jan 09 2003.

    I dont really understand how you reconcile your ‘free market’ radicalism with the idea that the state can abuse people psychologically all they want if they deem necessary.

    JG

  10. “Right, Tom, because no country in Europe would want to try to embarrass the U.S. and persue a political prosecution”

    I find this kind of ridiculous;

    the argument behind giving the government power to creatively abuse people is, ‘well if we dont, they might be ’embarassed’ by Europeans’??

    Why not Jennifer as long as it doesn’t raise to the level of sexual assault?

    And that level is… ?

    [ at the very least determined by the Assaulter in this case, not the assaultee… 🙂 making it a moot point.]

    There’s no “level”; in fact, there’s no *need* , which is the larger issue.

    Abuse is not necessary in interrogation, and saying everything short of violence is OK belies the issue, which is that there’s no value or purpose behind this kind of behavior OTHER than a simple exercise of cruelty for cruelty’s sake. Which personally i’d rather not see codified into US law.

  11. John is on to something here — the rubbing of bodies isn’t torture, it is sexual harassment. The perps (all the way up to the CinC) are required to take sensitivity training. Seems reasonable to me.

  12. Gilmore,

    What is abuse. Do you really think that if you just ask them nicely they will tell you everything? More importantly, if I go out into the street and desecrate the Koran in front of a bunch of Muslims, have I tortured them? If not, how is doing it in front of a prisoner any different. If so, how do we have a First Amendment anymore if you offending people amounts to torture?

  13. Why not Jennifer as long as it doesn’t raise to the level of sexual assault?

    Let me guess–so long as there’s no actual penetration of bodily orifices, it’s not sexual assault, right? Or is it, “you can rub a woman’s breasts with your body, but not use your hands?” You know–like in soccer.

  14. Physical abuse causing pain should be banned.

    However, what about trickery? Remember how Jim Phelps and the gang would take capture the war minister of a dictatorship and trick him into thinking her was talking to his underlings in his office and so tell the locations of the stolen atomic bombs, only to discover at the end of the show that he was in a elaborately decorated hut in the middle of nowhere with no sign of the IMF?

    Not that I think our forces could actually do something like that, but if so is it permissible?

  15. “Or to flush a Koran down a toilet?”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the “flushed Koran” incident proven to be, to put it nicely, in error where the facts were concerned? Is Bush a sponsor for torture because only real, factual evidence is used to prosecute people? Case in point is Abu Ghraib, where the culprits all appear to have gone straight to prison. Should Bush hold show trials and convict people based on make-believe evidence so as to prove he’s really, really opposed to torture?

    I may be out on a limb here, but I am opposed to both torture AND slander. The way the argument is currently framed, the assumption seems to be that to oppose one you are required to favor the other. I’m not okay with this.

  16. Yes, Michael

    The koran flushing story was completly false and the people at Abu Garhib were convicted and sent to prison. That said, however, nothing short of show trials and summary excecutions of anyone so much as accused of anything resembling a war crime will satisfy some people.

  17. JOHN =

    You are willingly evading the point, and I’m not going to explain to you the difference between ‘offensive’ behavior you can walk away from vs. abusive behavior directed at someone locked in a cell.

    Abuse is not difficult to define: it’s simply acting solely with the intent of causing suffering, with no larger purpose such as self defence or in offensive action in the midst of combat, etc.

    If you think interrogation of prisoners *requires* this kind of thing, you should (as mentioned) read more about the history of interrogation and learn what works vs what’s just fun for interrogators to do to. The referenced economist issue is a good start. The UCMJ is also handy.

    you willingly ignore the point about the purpose of having standards – our behavior isnt always about ‘rights’ prisoners deserve. Forget that. They’re about the ‘rights’ we expect others to honor in regards to US soldiers & citizens. Once you start creating double standards you put our troops and civilians at risk of retaliatory abuse/imprisonment, and undermine diplomacy aimed at reducing human rights violations all over the world.

    You are making a straw man implying that ‘not abusing’ prisoners gives them ‘rights’. nonsense. You can lock a guy in solitary and sooner or later he’ll tell you whatever you want. Arguing that we need to retain the right to be viscious assholes, be able to exercise our power over another person in any form we wish, however childish or vulgar, has nothing to do with the effective exercise of power, or effective intelligence gathering.

    If you want to make the case that these ‘techniques’ are in fact successful methods of interrogation of terrorist subjects, go right ahead.

    JG*

    (*son of marine corps lawyer who documented abuses by US soldiers during Nam, helped pentagon develop doctrine to minimize individual excesses as well as ‘authorized’ abuses)

  18. Gilmore,

    You are right that you can lock a guy in solitary and get him to talk. I don’t think locking a person into solitary for an extended period is going to pass muster under common article 3 and certainly not with the ICRC or Human Rights Watch.

  19. I have yet to see enough to demonstrate such extraordinary circumstances as to even arguably justify the interrogation techniques and, yes, torture that we’ve used. Bizarro ticking bomb scenarios? Okay, maybe. Real world situations? No way. Catch the guys. If they are combatants in a war-like setting, detain them for the duration of the war. If they are people we’ve caught in our policing of world terror, then try them. After that, you can imprison them or free them as required. We can be tough militarily without going to the dark side, I’m sure. Just what ideals are we trying to promote, anyway?

    As I’ve said before, this isn’t some gigantic, America-crushing threat we’re talking about. When you look at the big picture, even the threat of additional terror post-9/11 pales in comparison to the threat leveled at us during the Cold War. Where at least we were ashamed enough of our dirty deeds to hide them.

  20. To all the defenders of the tactics the Bush administration has authorized in Gitmo and elsewhere:

    Would you consider these same tactics used against American POWs to be okay? Is this just the sort of thing prisoners of war can expect, whether they be American or Arabian, or is there a double standard?

    And I’m not asking whether or not these things do happen to American POWs; obviously, they often do. I’m asking whether or not you’d consider it to be no more than they can expect, given that they were captured.

    Personally, I think that war prosecuted by any means necessary does as much harm to the victor as to the loser. All of history has been a long fight to make life more humane for more people, even if that’s not been the actual goal of many people in history. War, though inhumane by its nature, can be made as humane as possible by things like the laws of war. War fought with rules minimizes the loss of humanity by both sides.

    And in this case, we don’t even have the excuse of needing to be inhumane to win the war. We are the world’s sole superpower, and we have essentially already won the war on terror. There is nothing the terrorists can do to win. They can blow up more buildings, maybe make a few strikes on US territory, but even then they’re not going to win against globalization, which is what really frightens them. This war was decided long before the first shots were fired on either side, and all the damage we’re doing by torturing prisoners (or even using “coercive tactics” or whatever the hell they’re called) is to our own humanity.

  21. JOHN =

    “I don’t think locking a person into solitary for an extended period is going to pass muster under common article 3 and certainly not with the ICRC or Human Rights Watch.

    Show me the case and maybe i’ll take you seriously. 1) You dont really know what you’re talking about, and 2) you dont respond to direct points, such as, “whats the objective” of allowing silly forms of abuse? it doesnt *achieve* anything, and never has. It’s just unrestricted exercise of power over subjects, which generally (and more specifically in military-prisoner context, as has been demonstrated re: abu graib) leads to further excesses through the lack of clear standards of discipline.

    If you presented some logic or justification for it, then maybe you’d have a leg. Most people who serve in the forces understand this stuff a lot better than tough-talking citizens.

    FYI – Solitary confinement for ‘extended’ periods is generally OK (inder both ICRC, Article 3) as long as it’s demonstrated to be executed only in specific measured periods (30days, slightly more in some cases) and not ‘indefinitely’.

    Read the UCMJ.

    JG

  22. Forget that. They’re about the ‘rights’ we expect others to honor in regards to US soldiers & citizens.

    It’s also about what abusing someone does to the perpetrator. Do you think someone who’s accustomed to beating someone with a truncheon at work, or pulling out their fingernails, just leaves it all behind when they go home?

  23. Still no explanation of what does and does not constitute sexual assault in John’s universe, I see.

  24. Gilmore,

    If you had read the UCMJ, you would know it is not common article 3. Second, you admit that “Solitary confinement for ‘extended’ periods is generally OK (inder both ICRC, Article 3) as long as it’s demonstrated to be executed only in specific measured periods (30days, slightly more in some cases) and not ‘indefinitely'”. I don’t think 30 days in solitary is going to get you much information.

    The point is that you seem to avocate (long term solitary confinement) what amounts to cruel treatment even under your definitions.

    Further, if the devil came to earth and guarenteed that the worst thing that could ever happen to a captured U.S. soldier is watching the bible desecrated if he was a Jew or Christian or having a woman rub up against him, I think anyone who has ever been or ever will be in danger of being captured would say yes to the devil’s deal.

    Who are you guys kidding? If the insurgents in Iraq captured an American soldier and published a video of him having to watch the bible being desecrated and tied up with a woman rubbing up against him, how could you do anything but laugh? It would be like something out of Saturday Night Live. Give me a break. If people are being physically abused or undergoing long term, damaging psychological abuse, that is one thing. But to sit here and try to claim that being forced to watch the Koran being flushed (which of course didn’t happen) or having some female interrogator rub up against you is torture is an insult to every person who really has been tortured and an insult to people’s intelligence.

  25. “Or is it, “you can rub a woman’s breasts with your body, but not use your hands?”

    It’s my understanding that using your hands will get you thrown out of the nightclub.

  26. Depends on the girl, John.

    I’m not saying that everything we did was abusive, but a lot of it was. Why not play by the rules–ours, international, ethical, moral, etc.? We’re strong enough to do so without sacrifice, and we need to show that our high-sounding words actually mean something. With radical Islam especially, I think they’d be impressed as much by our moral authority as by our military strength. . .if we showed them some moral authority on occasion. Of course, they’d probably ignore that and point out that we liked Babe too much. Sigh.

  27. JOHN INVENTS =

    “But to sit here and try to claim that being forced to watch the Koran being flushed (which of course didn’t happen) or having some female interrogator rub up against you is torture…

    Jesus, you are willfully ignoring everything that gets said here….!

    Show me where someone said anything you mention = “it’s torture”. You just pulled that out of thin air.

    I personally said was it was *stupid* – because 1) it’s not effective interrogation, 2) degrades discipline, and 3) erodes standards we expect of treatment of civilian and military personnel abroad as well as at home. Someone else made the point that it is also inconsistent with civilized norms, but thats not my concern really. But it’s a point.

    Next – your citation of my ‘solitary confinement’ case as being ‘hypocritical’. OR where you say I claimed UCMJ “is” article 3.

    You cant read, or you do and you’re just dishonest.

    FYI = UCMJ allows solitary confinement. Article 3 allows solitary confinement (or at the least is undefined about it). This says nothing about their further alignment. You obviously dont know the details of either, so I dont see why you’re strutting around as though you just landed the point of the century.

    Again, reread my comments. I dont necessarily care about the temporary pain and suffering of battlefield prisoners, per se, so long as it actually serves some good, and doesnt require violation of basic UCMJ code/guidelines. What I do object to is micky mouse bullshit justified under the silly claim that you make = that we can and should more or less “do what we want” with prisoners, because it’s ‘no big deal’, and they’re ‘exceptions’ to real kinds of prisoners, and ‘hey, sticks and stones, and it’s only a bible/koran/whatever’.

    You simply dont know what soldiering is about, or what the point of prisoner interrogation is.

    As a serving soldier you are expected to behave to an ethical standard not only commensurate with but superior to that of the civilian public. The kind of nonsense you describe has no place in a military unit, and has no value at all in terms of intelligence gathering procedures. I dont care if you think ‘it’s no big deal’; it is not the kind of thing that uniformed soldiers should be doing, end of story.

    If you want to claim that this grabassing kind of stuff makes for good interrogation doctrine PLEASE DO SO. Make that case. I’d like to hear it. Otherwise you’re just being a knucklehead that thinks like a small-town cop.

    You either dont understand or are repeatedly ignoring the basic points here.

    Your counter argument, “well Al Quada wouldnt give US rights”… is utterly besides the point. The whole issue of maintaining moral superiority to your enemy isnt simply PR tactics (although certainly that is involved) – it’s actually the ‘best practice’ militarily. I dont know if you bothered to watch the testimonty of the service lawyers, but it was the MILITARY officers speaking against tribunals, against ‘torture’, against ‘creative interrogation’, etc, and the civilian admin that was FOR it. Why? Because the mil is on the sharp end of the stick and they know a) it doesnt work, b) it’s politically disasterous, c) it makes vague otherwise clear codes of conduct, and d) puts our people at risk of reprisals, and e) degrades the higher standard of military ethics.

    I dont care if the flushing the koran thing happened or not = but i can assure you the event (or the rumor of it) caused far more damage to US prestige, the reputation of our armed forces, the clarity of command and control of our system of military justice, etc. than whatever modicum of satisfaction it may have given the jackasses who allegedly did it.

    Oh… and lastly

    “I don’t think 30 days in solitary is going to get you much information”

    Like you’d know?

    Well, you’ve demonstrated such intimate familiarity with other topics, i can only take this at face value and assume you’ve been in The Hole a month or more, right?

    this kind of attitude is so stereotypical of the tough-talking couch-quarterback… Have you even ever been confined in a cell for more than a day? Have you ever seen what that kind of experience does to people? please, do share.

    JG

  28. Jennifer raises a very valid point. For a woman, captured, the import of having her body pawed is far different than a man being pawed by a woman.
    The two things are simply not remotely equal.
    One of my few regrets (but sources of great relief) was that I didnt toss a grenade in a tent one afternoon.
    A US “advisor”- a light Col- was interrogating yet another suspect, surrounded by his Cambodian merc goons. The prisoner was bound in wire, the prisoner was being “rung up” w/ a handcrank phone set.
    After the prisoner was tossed out of the tent, I saw she was a she. Young.
    That wasnt why I signed up. I toyed with the idea of killing them all, but it would have “been the end of Rico”, so I swallowed it. Shames me to this day. A girl. Call me a throwback, but real men dont torment women.
    Dont confuse sadism and terror w/ intel gathering. The serious pros will tell you its mutually exclusive.
    The “suspect” was executed. Another victory for freedom.
    Screw you cheese dick chickenhawks.

  29. Jennifer raises a very valid point. For a woman, captured, the import of having her body pawed is far different than a man being pawed by a woman.
    The two things are simply not remotely equal.
    One of my few regrets (but sources of great relief) was that I didnt toss a grenade in a tent one afternoon.
    A US “advisor”- a light Col- was interrogating yet another suspect, surrounded by his Cambodian merc goons. The prisoner was bound in wire, the prisoner was being “rung up” w/ a handcrank phone set.
    After the prisoner was tossed out of the tent, I saw she was a she. Young. She laid there in the mud til they took her off.
    That wasnt why I signed up. I toyed with the idea of killing them all, but it would have “been the end of Rico”, so I swallowed it. Shames me to this day. A girl. Call me a throwback, but real men dont torment women.
    Dont confuse sadism and terror w/ intel gathering. The serious pros will tell you its mutually exclusive.
    The “suspect” was executed. After what other abuse, I cannot say. Another victory for freedom.
    Screw you cheese dick chickenhawks.

  30. But to sit here and try to claim that being forced to watch the Koran being flushed (which of course didn’t happen) or having some female interrogator rub up against you is torture is an insult to every person who really has been tortured and an insult to people’s intelligence.

    Oh, come on, John. To some people I know, having a naked woman rubbing up against them would be torture, because they believe that lust (which almost any man would feel in that situation) is a sin. Would it be okay to make Muslim prisoners eat pork? It’s not harming them. And I can tell you that watching someone flush a consecrated host down the toilet would offend me, and I don’t even believe in transubstantiation. It’s the fact that they’re doing it deliberately to offend me that would piss me off, when I’m already a prisoner. Someone who pissed on a consecrated host in front of a Catholic church I’d just roll my eyes at, but someone sadistic enough to do it just to piss me off when they already have me in prison . . . that’s sick.

    And in response to the “it’s not as bad as what they do” argument . . . well, I’d rather have my tongue yanked out then have my eyes burned out with hot irons. Doesn’t mean that either one is especially appealing. What’s relevant is not what they do; it’s what’s right. Torturing people is not right. Nor is it especially effective, though it would be wrong even if it were. Civilized people don’t torture, and I’m not willing to descend to barbarism just to “win” a war that we’ve already won. Yeah, maybe it’s nothing compared to what the Spanish Inquisition did, but I’d like to think that our standards are slightly higher than that.

  31. To some people I know, having a naked woman rubbing up against them would be torture, because they believe that lust (which almost any man would feel in that situation) is a sin.

    I’d agree that sexual humiliation should be out of bounds, but you need a clear explanation for this, otherwise we run into someone pointing out, “Well, to some people, being kept in cells and not allowed to engage in guerrilla warfare against American troops is torture.”

  32. For example is it outrageous to put panties on a prisoner’s head? Or to flush a Koran down a toilet? Or for that matter to flush a consecrated host down a toilet? Allow women interrogators to rub their bodies against male prisoners, wear skimpy clothes in front of them, and make sexually explicit remarks to them? Interrogate prisoners while they are naked? Force them to wear Depends diapers?

    Nice diversion. As I understand it, there were rapes, beatings, and murders.

    When you let people off of their leashes they don’t stop at diapers. Eventually, some of them go all the way.

    And guess what? Some of them are going to come home and get jobs as cops.

    And some of the people that they tortured were innocents caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    War is hell. Absolutely outrageous things happen in war. THAT’S WHY ANYBODY WHO ENDORSES A FUCKING ELECTIVE WAR IS EITHER AN IDIOT OR A SOCIOPATH!!!!!

    Sorry for the all caps and swearing. But it pisses me off to no end when people try to gloss over the dead bodies by talking about panties on some dude’s head. Say what you will about the lighter forms of torture, but the issue goes WAY the hell beyond that. Pretending otherwise is just a way to cover up THE BLOOD THAT IS ON THE HANDS OF EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO ENDORSED AN ELECTIVE WAR.

  33. “Allow women interrogators to rub their bodies against male prisoners, wear skimpy clothes in front of them, and make sexually explicit remarks to them?”

    What do I have to do to be interrogated?

  34. I propose having someone from Denmark draw pictures of the prophet Mohammad and showing those pictures to terrorists until they talk. If they close their eyes just describe it to them.

  35. Allow women interrogators to rub their bodies against male prisoners, wear skimpy clothes in front of them, and make sexually explicit remarks to them?

    If there are any female interogators out there, I might know something regaurding the whereabouts of bin Laden but you will have to commit outrages on my personal dignity to get it out of me.

  36. While Al Qaeda could be considered a militia and some prisoners could be considered part of an “organized resistance movement”, in almost all cases I’m aware of NONE of the following apply:

    (a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

    (b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

    (c) That of carrying arms openly;

    (d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

    My reading is the Convention does not apply to most of the detainees.

  37. Right now we have a ticking bomb situation. There are some bombers still at large in the plot to blow up flights to the US from Britian. Are the things Mr. Bailey describes reasonable to use on the ones captured so far? Absolutely. Are slaps and “mild” physical abuse okay? Again, I think yes. Is waterboarding okay? For me this is a tough call. I thought it was appropriate for KSM, but not for your run of the mill potential mass murderer. Torture, such as pulling fingernails? No.

  38. Fuck it. Standing on the moral high ground gives me nosebleeds, anyway.

  39. There is a strong moral argument to be made against torturing or abusing prisoners, and this is the main reason I am against it.

    But from a practical self-interested point of view, here is another argument: One of the main ways that police and law enforcement officials catch criminals is that friends and relatives tell police what hey suspect. If they know that their friends and relatives are likely to be abused, they will be much more hesitant to turn them in. I believe there are terrorist plots that have been thwarted in just this way. (One in particular that was planned in London just a few weeks after the Subway bombing incident.)

    There could be a similar argument about opposing soldiers (Iraqis, etc.) who have mixed feelings about their participation against us, being willing to surrender.

  40. “My reading is the Convention does not apply to most of the detainees.”
    Comment by: Hunter

    Sure. But what about UCMJ, Army Field Manual, etc?

    I think a problem people have is the differences between the ‘law’ and ‘doctrine’.

    Law may say we ‘cant’ abuse prisoners. Another question is whether it really does any good in how it’s applied?

    The devil (no pun) is always in the details.

    If the objective is to get information, abuse, ‘torture’ sometimes works, but mostly doesnt when applied broadly. Read the Economist survey of the history of torture (Jan 03); one article from that http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=1522792

    In general, uniformed soldiers should be bound by the Convention, the UCMJ, and so on, and the ‘torture’ left to the CIA, and only used in narrow cases. Making vague ‘exceptions’ and undermining military code of conduct breeds confusion about standards, and leaves room for soldiers to do what they want, not for any intelligence gathering purposes, but because *they can*. The end result is where we are now, where we have hundreds of cases of severe abuse, torture, cold-blooded and accidental killings of prisoners, etc… because we said the rules didnt really apply.

    JG

  41. If any of you self-important know-it-alls (Mutt excluded) knew anything about the real utter shit world of guerilla war, you’d realize that any form of torture is BAD, WRONG!

    Not for the reasons you have expressed here but because a person under torture will say anything -ANYTHING – to get it to stop, thereby invalidating the results. I know this to be a fact.

    If some of you holier-than-thou, no-one’s-yelling-at-me pukes had the gumption to serve in the military, you could have used your fancy educations to work your way up to command positions. Not the f**king ivory tower JAG office but real command of the people at the fine edge, the ones most likely to err. You could have lead them to something better. I tried this but all I got was a shortened career and a reputation for being a trouble maker but at least I tried.

    You types don’t do this though. Never have, all through history. You sit safe at home, all smug, congratulating yourself for being “smart” while the walls burn down around you. You don’t seem to realize that this is a participatory society, not some board game or Military Sims.

    You’re the ones who leave the command and control of OUR Armed Forces to the likes that Marine captain who shot the burned prisoner, to that Bride of Frankenstein Brigadier General who was in charge of Abu Ghraib, to the morons of West Virginia, to Lieutenant Calley, etc, etc.

    I could have used a few of you to back me up when I tried to make a difference but you were too busy sneering at me when I walked by in uniform.

    Jerks.

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