Torture

President Donald Trump Could Make Military Interrogations Medieval Again

The next commander-in-chief could legally bring back torture.

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Make America Medieval Again
Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

During a Republican primary debate in March, Donald Trump pledged under his presidency to use "interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding" on terror suspects, adding of military personnel who refused to commit war crimes under his command, "They're not going to refuse me. Believe me."

At a different debate, Trump defended his stance to re-introduce a medieval torture tactic to the U.S. military because, "In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians…They're Medieval times. I mean, we studied Medieval times. Not since Medieval times have people seen what's going on."

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) insisted in a CNN interview following Trump's election victory that "Waterboarding isn't torture." Cotton seemed confident that the tactic would return to American anti-terror efforts because, "Donald Trump's a pretty tough guy, and I think he's ready to make those tough calls."

Spencer Ackerman reports for The Guardian that a number of national security officials—the everyday machinery of the national security bureaucracy who are "formally apolitical and provide expertise and continuity across administrations"—are scared out of their wits over Trump's unpredictable temperament and the potential that as president, he could make them complicit in civil liberties abuses or even war crimes. Ackerman cites one source who is uniquely terrified of Trump as commander-in-chief because he thinks the next president "does not understand the 'tertiary consequences' of decision-making on a global stage."

Though the creeping accumulation of executive power is no secret to readers of Reason, it appears that many people who were all to happy to high-five over President Obama's boast that he has a "pen and a phone" to issue executive orders are slowly coming to the understanding that Trump will enjoy those tools, as well.

To be sure, it was an Obama executive order that ended the official use of torture as U.S. policy, and he admirably went one step further and helped get a bill passed in Congress (overwhelmingly so, with a 91-3 vote in the Senate) that enshrined a ban on torture into the U.S. Army Field Manual.

The problem is, the Army Field Manual can be changed by the next Secretary of Defense under President Trump. Not only that, unlike Obama (and even President George W. Bush late in his presidency), Trump not only wants to keep the legal black hole known as the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay open, he wants to "load it up with some bad dudes."

Whether Trump as president makes good on his promises to make U.S. military interrogations medieval again, we don't yet know. But it could happen, and if it does, it could even be done legally.

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154 responses to “President Donald Trump Could Make Military Interrogations Medieval Again

  1. They’re Medieval times. I mean, we studied Medieval times. Not since Medieval times have people seen what’s going on.

    Keep, c’mon, Reason. Everyone knows he was talking about the restaurant.

    1. Tomatoes? Corn? Potatoes? What is this fucking shit, Medieval Times? These are New World foods. Authenticity, my ass.

      1. Maybe they mean corn in the traditional English sense, not maize.

        1. It says it’s on the cob and buttered.

          1. cob is a loaf of earth or… other material.

              1. That is much nicer-looking than the food I was served.

                1. You got the full New Jersey experience.

                2. You went to one of the authentic ones – gruel and a small bit of roasted, unseasoned pork, I’d guess.

                  1. I think all food in New Jersey gets first served at a strip club buffet and then works its way down the social scale from there.

      2. Look, man the tournament takes place in late medieval Spain. It’s 16th century avant-garde. The audience is just loaded with culinary explorers is all.

        1. What’s wrong with a little atavism? Surely no one here would dare to defend the outrageous “First Amendment dissent” of a single, isolated judge in America’s leading criminal Troll and “satire” case? I laughed when I saw that judge criticizing our plan to jail an insidious Troll as a form of “atavism.” See the documentation at:

          http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    2. The seats were uncomfortable, and they needed to provide a second napkin for finger-washing since they decided a lack of silverware would contribute to the atmosphere.

      But other than that, it was okay. If only I didn’t have to go to New Jersey for the show.

      1. Was the food even served on trenchers?

        1. it was a few years back – I don’t remember what the dishes under the food were, but since they didn’t make an impression, they might have been just the modern iterations.

          1. If you didn’t feed them to dogs or serfs after you were done, they weren’t trenchers.

      2. Taking prisoners of war to New Jersey is strictly forbidden by the Geneva Conventions.

      3. “There were no utensils in medieval times, hence there are no utensils AT Medieval Times.”

        “No utensils, but they had Pepsi?”

        “Dude, I have other tables.”

        1. They did have knives and spoons, no forks however

          Somehow I’m thinking they wouldn’t be cool with everyone sitting there eating their food with 8 inch daggers however

  2. During a Republican primary debate in March, Donald Trump pledged under his presidency to use “interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding” on terror suspects, adding of military personnel who refused to commit war crimes under his command, “They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me, they let you do it.”

    1. You mean…..

      He’s going to break ou tthe Celine Dion mix tape?

  3. I thought Trump had already walked back the torchure comments?

    1. No, you’re thinking of every other campaign promise he made.

    2. Trump is gonna call a couple of hard pipe hittin niggas to go after jihadas with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch.

      1. Where does the Gimp fit in?

          1. You mean Chris Christie?

            1. Can you imagine how many cows it would take to make him that suit?

              1. No, and I really don’t want to nor do I want to think of what kind of box you would need to put him in.

                1. A dumpster, I’d imagine

                  1. I suppose they make them in that size.

        1. po ably have to ask crusty about that. My imagination is not that vivid.

        2. Chris Christie will be playing the role of the gimp in the Trump admin.

    3. Every campaign promise Trump made that he didn’t mean he didn’t mean, and every campaign promise he did mean he did mean.

      Business tactics, Mr. Drew.

      1. Well it’s an opening position at least.

  4. John Yoo for SecDef?

    1. I’d rather see John Woo.

      1. That would make for A Better Tomorrow

  5. Every article from now until Jan. 20: “Is Trump really going to do the insane thing he said during the campaign?”

    1. You’d rather they write about all the NCIS episodes Hillary is binge watching?

      1. How about all the TV shows being worked on now about a sweet heroic grandma speaking “truth to power” at great personal risk against a super villain sex trafficking president.

        1. Plot twist, the president is her husband?

    2. Every article from now until Jan. 20: “Is Trump really going to do the insane thing he said during the campaign?”

      Exactly.

      I’m pretty sure most of these same points were already made during the campaign as well. If they didn’t terrify people during the election, i’m not sure what purpose the worst-case prognostication is supposed to serve now.

      Reminder =

      Obama didn’t close Gitmo, and he didn’t end the wars anywhere. And it wasn’t the most transparent administration ever, and he didn’t usher in a new age of bipartisanship.

      Stop assuming shit politicians say during campaigns is for any purpose other than getting elected.

      1. Did he stop the rise of the seas?

        1. HE TRIED BUT THEY OBSTRUCTED HIM

  6. Or, you know, maybe get us the fuck out of these medieval shitholes and into some conflicts with more modern foes. Then we can have some exciting space-age torture.

    Like with apps and corporate sponsors.

    1. auction off the rights to inflict pain and webcast the event?

      1. I like it. You’re going places, kid!

    2. Do you want Zerg? Cause that’s how you get Zerg.

    3. We need the Box of Pain, for it only kills human animals.

  7. Trump also “could” stop the blowing up of women and children.

    1. Or assassinating American citizens, something even the dreaded George W didn’t do.

      This is weak tea even for reason.

    2. No war in existence has managed to be free of collateral damage. Not sure why everyone here expects it otherwise.

      1. Then simply get out of the wars.

        1. Ideally yes. Not always the best option though. I’m sure that is an unpopular outlook amongst many of the commentariat.

  8. Wait. Waterboarding is torture? I thought red-hot irons up the arse was torture. Maybe ‘the rack’, tooth extraction, or finger breaking.
    But causing psychological fear and not permanent injury is now torture? So Trump’s election is basically torturing 60% of the 18-33 yr old demographic on a daily basis? sweet.

    1. That is a giant plus.

    2. Dunno, is sleep deprivation torture? What if it goes on for days?

      I guess I don’t know an according to Hoyle definition of torture but, man, it kinda seems like it.

      And what the Tump election is doing to the Millennial demographic is Woke-ning them. That fact that it is awesomely delicious is just a deliciously awesome side-effect.

      1. Back off, Drew. Torture is OK again now that a Republican is in the White House.

        1. So you’re saying that it wasn’t ok under Obama, or just not ok after it leaked? 🙂

          Bear also makes good point below re: near random droning=ok but waterboarding is outrageous.

          I think waterboarding is probably outrageous, but I also think that the drone campaign as currently executed is unconscionable.

          Sug, where might I buy a leather-bound collection of your work…for a friend

          1. No, I’m saying that the exact same actions are OK under one administration and completely not-OK under another to some people.

            Watch for the flip-flop when Trump doesn’t stop droning targets.

            I am currently without publisher because the last one killed himself.

            I did recently receive a lovely hardbound edition of Warty Hugeman and the Doomcock of Doom from Banjos as an early holiday present. It is indescribably beautiful.

            1. It’s almost like you fail to grasp the difference between taking an action because you’re pure evil and taking the exact same action with the best interests of all peoples in mind.

            2. the exact same actions are OK under one administration and completely not-OK under another to some people.

              Yes, i’m sure the left will remember that war is bad sometime in the next few months

              1. code pink will probably re appear in january

              2. Will they trot out Cindy Sheehan? They threw her away eight years ago. Once Obama was elected.

            3. Was it bound in human skin?

              1. Foreskin

            4. Instead of droning Muslims, maybe we should drone the progressives first.

    3. When you have as big a war cheerleader as Christopher Hitchens admitting it was torture, I think it’s fair to call waterboarding torture.

      1. Nonsense. Hitchens was never a big war cheerleader. He was a big voice is pointing out how abhorrent radicalism is in the Middle East. He explained a number of times in writings and interviews that he refused to accept totalitarian regimes and felt it was a moral obligation to free the people under them….paraphrasing here.

        Anything that we inflict on our own troops as a training tool, would seem to be to far of a stretch to call “torture” as it is historically defined.

        1. Sorry, but Hitchens was pro-Iraq war and the larger war on terror defending both consistently and vigorously. At first, he couldn’t see why the liberals, his friends to that point, disagreed given their historical support to removing dictators in Bosnia, Somalia, etc. He said more than once something like my opinion of these efforts and similar ones hasn’t changed over time, but my fellow pundits opinions have.

          He went so far as to defend Bush directly to a hostile and booing Bill Maher crowd – google it – it’s short and well worth your time – brilliant Hitchens as well.

          Hitchens even once said in an interview that after living in the US as a non-citizen for nearly 20 years, it was only during his defense of the Iraq war when he wrote more and more about “we”, referring to the American people and including himself in “we”, that he thought about becoming and finally became a US citizen.

          It was that important to him and as such, his defense of these positions was strong, open, and well known.

          Note – I do respect him and his writing a great deal. And it’s with that upmost respect that I think we should be open and honest about Htchens, rather than attempt to rewrite history to match our desire (not that you were doing so).

          Not that I neccessarily agree, but he knows what he believed and why and deserves a fair accounting. Even if history were to show him wrong, he wouldn’t want it any other way.

      2. Water boarding isn’t torture. Unless you’re a pussy.

    4. When you have as big a war cheerleader as Christopher Hitchens admitting it was torture, I think it’s fair to call waterboarding torture.

    5. I advocate Mike’s plan for the daily insertion of red hot irons in the assholes of progressives.

  9. Slightly off topic, but Spencer Ackerman? Really? Cmon.

    1. In reference to?

      1. Spencer Ackerman reports for The Guardian

        1. Oh right. Anthony Weiner was too busy sexting little girls to get a quote from.

      2. A little JournoList rehashing is always worthwhile!

        “At one point, Ackerman suggested that fellow members of the listserv should fight the way the right is fueling the Rev. Jeremiah Wright story by choosing one of Obama’s conservative critics, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares ? and call them racists.”

        At another point, Ackerman acknowledged that, while he didn’t like having to toe a partisan line, “what I like less is being governed by racists and warmongers and criminals.”

        He continued: “I do not endorse a Popular Front, nor do I think you need to. It’s not necessary to jump to Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a right winger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously, I mean this rhetorically.”

        http://tinyurl.com/h83fv4d

        1. BTW, Spencer Ackerman is a “national security reporter” whose expertise is based on a BA in god only knows from fucking Rutgers and being a blogger.

        2. Every one of these traitors should be executed for treason.

    2. Ackerman’s eyeglasses alone raise several upsetting suspicions.

      http://tinyurl.com/Guardian-Ackerman

  10. Trump not only wants to keep the legal black hole known as the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay open, he wants to “load it up with some bad dudes.”

    You mean re-open Gitmo. Obama closed it in his first 100 days, and then there was no terrorism since because, as al-Qaeda explained in their press release at the time, “I mean, what’s the point now?? There’s no more Gitmo, and there’s not gonna be any more US military in our backyards anymore thanks to Mr. Nobel Peace prize.”

    It was pretty pathetic after that when al-Qaeda tried to stay open as a window-washing service. Talk about a fall from grace!

    1. Congress is to blame that it was ever a legal black hole to begin with. They could have addressed it and choose to stay out if it because they’re all political cowards.

  11. Perhaps Congress could pass a declaratory law specifying (a) that Presidential approval doesn’t make torture any less tortur-y, and (b) that participating in, authorizing or ordering torture is an impeachable offense.

    Let Trump veto that if he wants – we can know where we stand.

  12. At no point (as far as this article or the links within go) did Trump say he was going to re-introduce medieval torture techniques. The reference to Medieval was a reference to the behavior of Islamists. Yes he said he would use techniques harsher than waterboarding (which I don’t care what anyone says, is NOT torture). And I would agree that we need to keep a close eye on this sort of thing.

    But no one on the left seemed to have a problem with randomly drone bombing all kinds of people. But actually capture someone on the ground (which means there is at least a higher probability they were actually engaged in terrorism or at least fighting against our forces) and waterboarding them is beyond the pale. Something is seriously bass ackwards here.

    1. Suppose that, instead of a terror suspect in the hands of the military, it’s a suspected serial killer in the custody of the police. They strap the suspect down and pretend to drown him, demanding to know about the murders.

      Torture or not?

      1. Those ar in no way equivalent situations. Do I really need to explain to you why?

    2. If you can’t take parts of two different quotes and mash them together, then really, what use is journalism?

    3. …waterboarding […] is NOT torture…

      It is. In the Army during the mid-aughts I was lucky enough to attend SERE School as, after the dreaded Surge which in and of itself accomplished virtually nothing but rather it was buying off the Sons of Iraq completely which reduced the violence, was a bag-man in southwest Baghdad which would take hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars every week and bankroll local militias.

      Anywho, in SERE School I was waterboarded. Is it torture? Yup, absolutely. Do I give a shit? Not at all. Now, I do admit it would be much easier to take this position in a justified conflict as opposed to these wars of luxury and projection and that’s where things get murky for me.

      I *want* to win by any and all means necessary, nothing off the table, but taking such an absolutist position is terrifying when we wade around the world ass-fisting countries for the fuck of it.

  13. If Trump actually tortures someone, I’ll be first in line to denounce him for it.

    At some point, however, we should probably come to terms with the fact that during his campaign, Trump was given to bravado.

    Let’s make that our word of the day.

    bravado

    noun bra?va?do \br?-?v?-(?)d?\

    “confident or brave talk or behavior that is intended to impress other people”

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bravado

    1. That’s also a pretty handy definition for “bullshit.”

      1. That’s also a pretty handy definition for “bullshit.”

        Shocking news: politicians generally lie.

        Even more shocking news: candidates lie even more than already-elected politicians.

        I may faint.

      2. Yeah, Webster’s definition doesn’t really express that it’s generally not meant to be taken literally.

        If I’d have been there at Tora Bora back in 2001, I’d have marched straight into that cave and kicked bin Laden’s ass all by myself.

    2. Let’s make that our word of the day.

      The sheer bravado of Ken to employ this argument impressed even Reason’s most cynical commenters.

      1. Arguing that we shouldn’t shit our pants over Trump’s bravado isn’t really bravado.

  14. President funnels billions to insurers in sketchy backdoor bailout. Aside from the normal double-standard?could you imagine a Republican doing this??and the left’s sudden change of heart?insurers are their friends, now?isn’t this just another case of lefties whistling past the graveyard? The system they jumbled together out of string and paste is irretrievably broken at any cost, and there’s no reason to believe it’s going to get less expensive the further into the spiral it gets. So President Obumbles, if he manages to get his way, is going to pay out billions to those dirty, greedy insurers and, on his way out the door, stick Republicans with the tab. And somehow this is the genius the left hails as having saved healthcare.

  15. I heard that Trump could make a pact with computers to supply live humans to use as power sources.

    1. The Derp is everywhere, it is all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

  16. We need to be hanging people for war crimes. Kissinger, Clinton, Bush Sr., Bush Jr., Clinton, Kerry, and yes, Obama.

    1. Uh, sure. You get right on that.

  17. Though the creeping accumulation of executive power is no secret to readers of Reason, it appears that many people who were all to happy to high-five over President Obama’s boast that he has a “pen and a phone” to issue executive orders are slowly coming to the understanding that Trump will enjoy those tools, as well.

    I have a friend who questioned whether the media would be deferential to Trump like they were to Bush. When I added “and especially Obama”, he told me I was incorrect, and the media was too tough on Obama.

    Never underestimate the ability of progressives to be entirely tone deaf about these things.

  18. Oh, and Anthony?

    “The problem is, the Army Field Manual can be changed by the next Secretary of Defense under President Trump. Not only that, unlike Obama (and even President George W. Bush late in his presidency), Trump not only wants to keep the legal black hole known as the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay open, he wants to “load it up with some bad dudes.”

    Any evidence other than his own meaningless words that Obama wanted to close Gitmo since, after almost eight goddamned years in office, it’s still open?

  19. Dear Reason =

    Rather than endlessly refill your collective diapers over what “might” happen, or what “could” happen, or even what is “likely” to happen…

    …why not actually take a time out from the prognostication business and write about stuff that HAS happened/IS happening?

    I still think there’s an unwritten article out there about how this election was a total refutation of the people who still constantly moan about Citizen’s United and “money in politics”… and how both Bernie and Trump should be proof to everyone on the left that you don’t need bazillions in Corporate Money or even the !*()#*@$ support of the major parties to completely upend the status quo.

    Stuff like that seems to me a valuable point that no one else is currently talking about.

    You know what most of the people in the bullshit-rest-of-the-media are currently doing? Stuff exactly like this = “sky is falling” hysterics based on extrapolation from Trump rhetoric.

    And just as a footnote = How many people, exactly, did the US waterboard? Somewhere between *three*, as the Bush Administration often claimed…. or a dozen? The Spanish Inquisition will be disappointed by the comparison.

    If you’re going to freak out about something, at least provide some basic contextual facts in the process, so everyone is clear on exactly what it is you’re freaking out about.

    1. “LEAVE DONALD ALONE!” he cried, the tears making the mascara run down his face like twin rivers of night.

      1. That’s possibly the most-retarded possible translation of what i just said.

        Go ahead and bash trump. Bash the people he’s nominating for various cabinet posts. Bash politicians who are now turning on a dime and sucking his dick to keep their jobs.

        But don’t just fucking re-write the same hysterical over-reaction to paper-thin rhetoric that we’ve read 100 times here and elsewhere.

        1. “He’s a good man. A good man!” he said. “And we only tortured a little and I’m sure the government didn’t lie to us about how many they did torture.”

          “I’m finally glad I can trust our government again,” he said. When he smiled, blood ran down his chin.

          1. I forget – it can always get more retarded.

            Its like watching a grown man play with dolls.

              1. Is that one of the new dolls I was hearing about?

            1. By insert them into his rectum?

      2. These.

        These right here are the best tears of all.

    2. We should use The Wednesday Woodchipper to shame Reason into producing better quality content. I skipped last Wednesday because of the Progtears coma, but I think The Wednesday Woodchipper should become a regular and well-participated tradition of the commentariat.

      This is an open invitation to all. Just write an article (nothing too long, maybe a page-and-a-half or two) on whatever chips your wood, and post it in the Wednesday AM or PM Links.

    3. you don’t need bazillions in Corporate Money

      Yeah, union money is just as good. And look how Hillary used it to kick Bernie’s ass.

      I love the retrospective “Bernie coulda beaten Trump.” He couldn’t even beat Hillary, and I suspect he couldn’t even beat the Browns, should that opportunity arise.

      1. HASN’T CLEVELAND SUFFERED ENOUGH!?!?

        no…they haven’t

        go bengals

        1. Well, he did get cancelled after four seasons.

  20. Extraordinary Renditioning. Thats all I have to say.

  21. The next commander-in-chief could legally bring back torture.

    Because it went away. Guantanamo is still open, last I checked.

    Also, this happened.

    American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan have ended. How do we know? Obama told us so. He told us that the PATRIOT Act was coming to an end and… oh.

  22. There are two choices.

    They are either POWs, in which case the Geneva Convention applies:

    Article 17

    Every prisoner of war when questioned on the subject, is bound to give only his surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this, equivalent information…

    …No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever.

    OR they are criminals, in which case they get a lawyer and are tried under the US justice system and are still not eligible to be tortured (unless they are pot smokers).

    I have no problem creating a third category. All we need to do is debate what that category is, lay out specific guidelines for treatment of those falling in that category, get a majority of both houses to agree upon it and have the POTUS sign it into law.

    Until that happens, you’re stuck with the first two choices.

    1. No. If you want a third category, you amend the constitution.

      1. What part of the Constitution would you need to amend?

        The GC is essentially a treaty and the justice system is defined by legislation (not ammendment). I think legislation defining a new category would suffice for due process.

        The argument Bush made for them NOT being POWs is that they didn’t meet the definition laid out in the GC for POW:

        Article 4

        A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

        1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

        2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

        (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.

        So he said he could torture/coerce them, but failed to categorize them or cite by what authority he was allowed to do so.

        1. were you not paying attention during the conflicts? The Bush administration declared them to be unlawful combatants, in accordance with failing to meet the definition of militia/resistance as they neither wore uniforms/insignia and didn’t not adhere to the laws of war…ie. GC.

          No serious legal authorities argued the definition. They argued plenty of other things, but the definition was broadly accepted.

          1. I stand corrected.

            While the concept of an unlawful combatant is included in the Third Geneva Convention, the phrase itself does not appear in the document.[1] Article 4 of Third Geneva Convention does describe categories under which a person may be entitled to POW status, and there are other international treaties that deny lawful combatant status for mercenaries and children. In the United States, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 codified the legal definition of this term and invested the U.S. President with broad discretion to determine whether a person may be designated an unlawful enemy combatant under United States law.

            However, in my limited research I see nothing giving the executive the authority to torture unlawful combatants.

            1. yeah, we pointed that out 4 hours ago.

              re: giving the ‘executive’ permission to torture…

              i’m sure you followed the whole Yoo-memo process. The exec asked for a legal ruling on whether x/y/z “enhanced interrogation” techniques were torture. Lawyers said no. Exec told CIA those methods were permitted under limited circumstances and with specific approval. CIA (mostly) followed those rules. sometimes they didn’t.

              I’m sure you also followed the senate investigation of the CIA’s program. Which found that the ‘sometimes they didn’t’ moments were still within the stretched bounds of legality. As highlighted above, the number of people to whom these things applied could be counted on 2 hands.

              Whether the Yoo-memo passes constitutional (*or convention against the use of torture) scrutiny is something that human-rights lawyers still debate in classrooms today. Anybody who professes casual certainty of opinion about it is probably not worth listening to.

              1. Anything is technically arguable, but that doesn’t mean much at all. Since people can be–and often are–stupid and opportunistic, it shouldn’t be surprising when people or judges interpret the law in such a way that the government is conveniently granted a power they want it to have. The Supreme Court has done this with the Constitution on numerous occasions, going so far as to outright ignore it; the fact that this happened does not mean they were not blatantly wrong.

                I don’t care about disagreements among lawyers.

            2. ‘Torture’…….such a subjective term. I’ve been subject to water boarding pursuant to past military training. It isn’t fun, but it’s not torture.

    2. You seem to be overlooking the fact that the Bush administration created a 3rd legal category – “Unlawful Combatants” exactly for the purposes of avoiding your binary-choice.

      And even that isn’t really even attempting to clarify a “third thing” (which would run into conflict with the 4th Geneva Convention) as much as simply putting them in a permanent limbo where their “status” as either A or B is always pending another ‘Combatant Status Review Tribunal’.

      1. he isn’t overlooking it, he is intentionally ignoring it.

        The Bush administration legally defined the prisoners as unlawful combatants in accordance with international law and the Geneva Convention. There was little serious argument about the legality of the definition. His whole argument is moot.

    3. I respectfully disagree. The 4th Geneva Convention deals almost exclusively with prisoners of war as defined in Article 4. (Article 3 does grant certain protections for everyone, but it only applies to non-international conflicts) Since Taliban and Al Qaeda forces generally didn’t fit the requirements to be lawful combatants under the protections of the Geneva Convention, there is no force of law to prohibit our using enhanced interrogation techniques, or detaining them for whatever period of time. I believe we have signed other treaties forbidding the use of torture, but for all intents and purposes, the Geneva Convention is irrelevant in these cases.

      As far as I know, US military officers are completely within their rights to summarily execute combatants who don’t fit the requirements of POWs as defined in the Geneva Convention. (Mind you, I am in NO WAY advocating that). And I do feel that the men detained in Guantanamo should be given military tribunals and then sentenced to formal terms or released. However, they do NOT deserve the protection of US citizens in terms of burden of proof.

      1. This was a reply to Francisco’s original comment. I am totally in agreement with MikeP2

      2. As far as I know, US military officers are completely within their rights to summarily execute combatants who don’t fit the requirements of POWs as defined in the Geneva Convention.

        No. Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC)

        4.19.3 Unprivileged Belligerents ? Detention. Unprivileged belligerents are liable to
        capture and detention, like lawful combatants.

        4.19.3.1 Humane Treatment. Although unprivileged belligerents are not entitled
        to the privileges of POW status, unprivileged belligerents, like all other detained persons, must
        be treated humanely. In particular, they, like all other detainees, must receive, at a minimum, the
        fundamental guarantees of humane treatment described in Common Article 3 of the 1949
        Geneva Conventions.
        405 In addition, the United States has explicitly supported, out of a sense of legal obligation, the fundamental guarantees reflected in Article 75 of AP I as minimum
        standards for the humane treatment of all persons detained during international armed conflict.
        406

        1. Article 3

          In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
          (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ‘ hors de combat ‘ by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
          (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
          (b) taking of hostages;
          (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
          (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

  23. Well, Donald Trump has often said his original positions are just starting points for negotiation, so maybe he doesn’t want to really bring back waterboarding.

    Maybe he’d be satisfied with plastering their cells with naked pictures of Lena Dunham.

    1. I think I’d rather take the waterboarding.

      1. I’ll stick with drinking molten lead, thanks.

  24. Re torture, it wasn’t a medieval invention, and it certainly wasn’t abolished in the post-medieval world.

    One medieval innovation was, in many cases, to require that torture be based only on what we would call probable cause, as ascertained by a court, and as part of a criminal investigation.

    1. 24 years ago that was. damn.

      1. And it’s on BBC America as I write this.

  25. Look at the bright side, we have both a media and the Democratic party to finally make questioning the President Great Again.

  26. If the title for this article were “President Donald Trump could eat live kittens in the Rose Garden”, they would both be equally true. The conditional “Could” implies a possibility, not scale. How about afixing a probability onto your articles, so we can all have a laugh later on?

    1. Have to shave the pussy hair first.

  27. President Donald Trump Could Make Military Interrogations Medieval Again
    The next commander-in-chief could legally bring back torture.

    If you believe it went away under an Obama Administration that had no qualms about murder droning an American citizen without due process, I’ve got some beach front property in Arizona to sell you.

    1. Make Otisburg great again!

  28. An interesting theory for the theory of law, but in the practice of law, this assertion stands: torture is illegal, whatever the law says. You cannot make murder legal just by saying it is. The same goes for torture.

    1. You cannot make murder legal just by saying it is.

      um…you do realize the pro-abortion argument hinges on this very action. As well as capital punishment.

      They make ‘murder’ legal by saying it doesn’t meet the definition of murder.

      No different than making ‘torture’ legal by saying it does meet the definition of torture.

    2. Let’s not mix the theory of the theory of law and the theory of the practice of law.

  29. RE: President Donald Trump Could Make Military Interrogations Medieval Again
    The next commander-in-chief could legally bring back torture.

    Torture is legal!
    Yay!
    There’s nothing like a good inquisition to show the world how civilized and humane we are.

    1. We don’t torture. Even waterboarding was only used in a few exceptional cases. It don’t let that stop the hyperbole.

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  31. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

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  32. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

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