Torture

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by KnightWriter, Apr 3, 2009.

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  1. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
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    Just remember: Hollywood says waterboarding is bad, but submerging a man in water strapped down and replacing his bones with metal is okay. :p

    Five bucks to anyone who can place the quote.


    On to torture:

    The North Vietnamese and their Russian/Chinese allies tortured the bejesus out of any and all American pilots they captured over periods of years. To the best of my knowledge, the vast majority of pilots never gave any valuable information of any sort to the enemy in that conflict. Assuming that fanatically motivated religious terrorists who believe killing Westerner's is God's Will (which accurately describes a number of Guantanamo inmates and people who went to the CIA's secret prisons) will break under much milder forms of torture and provide information is utterly ridiculous. The US Army Field Manual on Interrogation specifically prescribes non-violent interrogation because Luftwaffe interrogators who used mentally manipulative techniques broke into all manner of sensitive information-in one case with a radio operator, successfully compromising a major Dutch resistance network-were vastly more successful than their Gestapo counterparts who tortured routinely.
  2. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Okay, posting twice in a row because this is genuinely important:




  3. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    It doesn't really matter what she was told. It's an attempt to get around reality, which is that the Bush administration conceived of its plans on its own and executed them on its own. Dragging Pelosi into it (who may or may not be responsible for not speaking up based on what she was told at the time) is absurd.

    The idea that Pelosi should have spoken up and didn't therefore absolves the Bush administration of responsibility for its crimes is the height of ridiculousness. If the Bush administration's key people owned up to what they did, then I'd be more inclined to point a finger at Pelosi. They're not going to do that, though, and she's a peripheral figure in the Bush administration's crimes.

    and if they were lying, I don't see why they wouldn't have been put in front of a Senate committee and probably sent to jail already.

    Who was going to drag them in front of Congress during the Bush administration? No one. Basically, it's been possible to do that only since Obama's been in office, as W's use of executive power to let Rove and others avoid testifying about their own alleged crimes shows.
  4. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    The point is-noone did anything illegal as far as US law is concerned if Congress knew about it. I don't care if Pelosi never spoke up about it, as that would have been illegal for her to do to begin with and along the lines of the Bush administration's outing of Valery Plume as a spy.

    I understand your point about the morality of not speaking up about it, but if the CIA was lying about torture to Congress (which I doubt to begin with; the potential penalties are abit much when all you have to do is inform them, not necessarily ask for permission) then I don't see why this would not have been major news as soon as Obama was sworn in. We're just hearing about this nearly four months later? Something smells rotten around here and we need more information if you ask me.
  5. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    I understand your point about the morality of not speaking up about it, but if the CIA was lying about torture to Congress (which I doubt to begin with; the potential penalties are abit much when all you have to do is inform them, not necessarily ask for permission) then I don't see why this would not have been major news as soon as Obama was sworn in. We're just hearing about this nearly four months later? Something smells rotten around here and we need more information if you ask me.

    Do you mean with respect to the Obama Administration? I think four months is a pretty reasonable timeline for a revelation like that to come out if they discovered it.

    Or do you mean with respect to Congress? In that case yes, I'd agree with you.

    I'm not sure KW is wrong in his assertions about why we're discussing Nancy Pelosi when she didn't make the policy. But that doesn't mean she's putting her neck out either, and it doesn't mean she was ever actually lied to, which I find hard to believe.

    It's sort of a song and dance. Why didn't Nancy Pelosi speak up? Well probably for the same reason she said impeachment was off the table: she wanted to keep the peace. Speaking up would have caused a huge ruckus. It wasn't particularly heroic, but not particularly villianous either.

    But know at the same time when life isn't fair and to submit yourself before the law as well. Maybe she's in an impossible situation. Well then, she's in an impossible situation. We can't pick and choose right and wrong over the specifics of Nancy Pelosi. If the Bush administration is to be held accountable, then she has to be as well.

    It's not that I think Pelosi has done anything irresponsible under the Bush years. In fact I think that she did the responsible thing. It's more that what she's doing now in shifting blame is irresponsible. I think a lot of politicians don't realize or resent the fact that, as a price of thier position, they often need to take a fall for things that are not only not thier fault, but that they could not have reasonably prevented or handled any better. This may be one of those situations. It doesn't matter that Pelosi did the best she could or the best anyone could: if she wasn't lied to and the Bush administration and the CIA kept her reasonably informed (which I think they did -- Cheney can be blamed for a lot of things but this seems a bit too convenient), then she needs to submit herself before the public will regardless.

    If she actually WAS lied to, mind you, that's something different. I just don't think she was.
  6. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    Could you please explain your thinking on that? How does some members of Congress knowing effect the legality of the Bush administration policy?

  7. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    It shouldn't. It just means Pelosi was complicit.
  8. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9

    It's US National Security Law. The purpose of the House Intelligence Committee is to ensure that Congress is informed on their operations; bear with me here, as this is going to bring some fairly random things together:


    The Justice Department under AG Gonzalez issued an opinion saying that waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" did not constitute torture.


    Now, the House Permanent Select Committee for Intelligence is supposed to be briefed by the Deputy Director for Intelligence on everything the CIA does; the same goes for the other 15 intelligence agencies the USA currently has. They have unlimited legal access to any and all CIA operations, with the understanding that they won't be leaking classified information all over the place. Now, in the unlikely situation that the DDI was lying to them, there is no reason that this couldn't have been brought out into the public when Bush's popularity was at an all-time low last year.

    But frankly-the DDI didn't need to lie; the CIA had the Justice Department finding and, no doubt, a Presidential finding authorizing "extreme interrogation methods" (code for torture) in the defense of national security.

    In other words, Pelosi doesn't have a leg to stand on because the CIA had no reason to deceive the Subcommittee to begin with; everything was made nice and 'legal enough'.

    Additionally-it's known that the CIA did not do everything on American soil, or even with USG personnel. That makes the legal aspect of this even more murky for reasons that should be obvious.

  9. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Could you please explain your thinking on that? How does some members of Congress knowing effect the legality of the Bush administration policy?

    Well, under the umbrella concept of "stare decisis," (which as a legal term, admittedly doesn't exactly apply here because it usually refers to court decisions) the fact that "some members of Congress knew" for up to 7 years now, would serve to establish de facto acceptance of the actions under question.

    For example, back in 1982-83, Oliver North and the gang got in trouble for the Iran-Contra scandal because they willfully ignored the Boland Amendment that was authorized by Congress. Colonel North wasn't censured for the results of his actions per se, but more for the fact that he disregarded the law to do so. However, imagine if you will if North actually briefed Senator Boland on the fact that he was going to disregard the restriction before he actually did, and not only didn't Boland refuse the notification, but Boland didn't actually prevent Noth's actions. Boland's lack of "speaking up" wouldn't justify North's violation, but it sure would impact any future legal proceedings that related to them, if that was one's focus.

    This also relates directly back to KW's desire that the Bush administration acted on its own/acted as a rouge authority. It's the faux-outrage that matters now, not necessarily the legality of the past practice. Nancy Pelosi is being mentioned here because she's the one making denials/counter-denials. But the basic issue is that if the administration fulfilled the reporting requirements at the time, then the "legality" (or lack thereof) is spread across government.
  10. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Link

    I know the source is Huffington Post so it's a bit premature to say it's true. But if it turns out that this is correct then it actually lends some weight to what Pelosi is saying.
  11. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    It depends on what focus you want to give. One of Graham's statements from that link is rather, um... obvious though...For him to point out that he wasn't allowed to bring in his ever present spiral notebooks, and add that when he went back to review the notebooks he wasn't allowed to bring, the meetings weren't detailed...

    "Hey, I wasn't allowed to bring in a camera, but when I went back to print the images, there weren't any files in the camera that wasn't there... So it's got to be evidence of... something..."

    In fact, on the flip-side, the low level nature of the briefings could also serve to support those who were giving them. You're always going to get recollections that are uncertain as these because they happened 7 years ago as a matter of course of daily operations.

    Here's an opposite spin on the nature of the briefings, which may or may not be just as accurate:

    CLICK ME

    (Although the follow-on observation about Pelosi not being smart enough to understand what she was being briefed on, while apparently from Hannity-and just as partisan- is kind of funny. Politicians always seem to alternate between being the most stupid people in the world, or alternately, the most cunning.)

    But I'd say all of this is still rather pointless. To debate on how many meetings were given or not, or to analyze the semantic difference between "high level briefings" and "low level briefings," or to turn it into yet another partisan dues paying mission misses the point as it applies now, and really always applied.
  12. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    The reliability of HP notwithstanding mr44, you're mischaracterizing the use of his notes around what he states in his article:


    "When this issue started to resurface I called the appropriate people in the agency and said I would like to know the dates from your records that briefings were held," Graham recalled. "And they contacted me and gave me four dates -- two in April '02 and two in September '02. Now, one of the things I do, and for which I have taken some flack, is keep a spiral notebook of what I do throughout the day. And so I went through my records and through a combination of my daily schedule, which I keep, and my notebooks, I confirmed and the CIA agreed that my notes were accurate; that three of those four dates there had been no briefing. There was only one day that I had been briefed, which was September the 27th of 2002."

    As for the one briefing he did attend, the Florida Democrat said that he had "no recollection that issues such as waterboarding were discussed." He was not, per the sensitive nature of the matters discussed, allowed to take notes at the time. But he did highlight what he considered to be pretty strong proof that the controversial technique was not discussed.

    "What struck me...was the fact that in that briefing, there were also two staff members," he said. "As you know, the general rule is that the executive is to brief the full committees of the House and Senate Intelligence committees about any ongoing or proposed action. The exception to that is what is called "covert action," where the president...only briefs the Gang of Eight, which is the four congressional leaders and the four intelligence committee leaders. Those sessions are generally conducted at an executive site, primarily at the White House itself. And they are conducted with just the authorized personnel, not with any staff or any other member of the committee.... Which leads me to conclude that this was not considered by the CIA to be a Gang of Eight briefing. Otherwise they would not have had staff in the room. And that leads me to then believe that they didn't brief us on any of the sensitive programs such as the waterboarding or other forms of excessive interrogation."


    At no point is Graham looking to his notebook to try to ascertain the details of the meeting, merely when the meetings took place, for which it's entirely logical he would have notes. When moving on to the actual contents of the actual briefing he did recieve, that's when he is by his own admisssion relying on his own memory.

    Concerning the presence of two staff members at the meeting the article does not estblish if that's coming from Graham's memory, his notes, or another source. Of course, whatever the source, it would be indirect, circumstantial evidence in any event.
  13. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Gonk, my statement about his notes was made in a tongue-in-cheek manner. I was poking fun of the exact same passage you copied above- Notebook or no notebook? 2 staff members or no staff members? High level focus or low level focus? My overall point was that it doesn't matter.

    Just today, Leon Panetta released a rare statement (for the director of the CIA, at least-who usually stays "politically neutral") which rebutted Pelosi's (and Graham's) claims:

    CHI TRIB

    Panetta: "Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress," said Panetta, a former member of the House of Representatives from Monterey. "That is against our laws and our values."

    And here's a previous article that explores the fact that literally dozens of briefings were carried out back in 2002-03:

    LA TIMES

    I'm positive that not all of the dozens of meetings obsessively focused on waterboarding, which seems to be the case now. But again, the substance of this back-and-forth circus just silly. It's Pelosi who keeps opening her big pie-hole, and it's Pelosi who keeps making claims and counter-claims, most of which are based on statements and/or recollections which seem REALLY defensive. What's even more ironic is that everyone seems to accept that some amount of briefings were actually given, and the original desire of some to "prosecute the Bush administration" has been realistically abandoned. So really, the only thing left is the feigning of outrage, which looks more self-destructive than anything.

    In order to cover her own posterior region, it seems that Pelosi is finally giving the attention to the issue she should have given it 7 years ago. Except 1)The US doesn't even use waterboarding anymore, and 2)She has to now duck and cover because of the current political reality.

    In short, Panetta's request to "Tune out the uproar" seems to be the genuine order of the day.

  14. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    44, you seem to have the view that because waterboarding is no longer done, it shouldn't be much of a concern to us now, if any attention should be paid at all.

    This is absurd. It was a crime and should be investigated. If it means dragging Democrats into it, that's fine. But, let's remember that it was the Bush administration, not Nancy Pelosi's administration or any other Democrat. George W. Bush is responsible for his own war crimes, and should be held accountable. We don't ignore things just because those things aren't practiced any longer (or so people say).
  15. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    DarthBoba, none of what you posted has any effect on the applicability of U.S. laws against War Crimes and Torture.

  16. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    KW, I'd say that your focus is all wrong. I don't know how you developed the mindset that our government can somehow be looked at in terms of isolated slices, but it's not accurate.

    My point all along doesn't revolve around what is "right" or "wrong," but rather that the administration attempted to define practices that weren't set up until that point within a situation that was far from perfect to begin with. Pelosi and the gang (including different GOP legislators) were informed of the proposals. This isn't- or rather, it shouldn't be looked at as- new information that is only now coming to light. It's policy that was initiated in 2002, modified along the way, and finalized by 2005-06. In that context, it is important to look at the reality that specifics like waterboarding were started, but also ended by the previous administration. (and now expressly and currently prohibited)

    You're looking at the issue from the standpoint of calling for blood, and not at all from the standpoint of what actually happened- You want Bush to fry, you want war crimes to be filed, etc..etc.. But 1) these things aren't ever going to happen, and 2)it wasn't just "Bush," no matter how much you want it to be.

    In fact, I'm not sure which is worse- that the Bush administration attempted these in the first place, or that figures like Pelosi went along with them when it was expedient to do so, and only became "outraged" 7 years after the fact when the political climate changed. Such is the nature of politics though.

    Everything else-from the claim that Pelosi should be excused because she didn't understand what she was being briefed on- to Graham's disappearing notebook and political aids- to everything in between- is just political manuvering.

    Remember, Leon Panetta- the CIA director who I linked to above and who just today told Pelosi to cram it- was appointed by Obama, and has no ties to the previous administration. If anything, Panetta's statements represent a rift between Pelosi and the current administration, and if she keeps this up, she is most certainly going to get smacked down. Obama is certainly shrewd enough to realize that the more Pelosi looks like a raving lunatic, the more it keeps the issue alive and spilling into his administration's perception.
  17. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9

    The point is, the Justice Department opinion was probably specifically crafted so that the CIA could use torture as part of interrogation. If the CIA was legally allowed to do so-which they were-, then they presumably informed Pelosi and the rest of the Subcommittee when they started, and Pelosi's claims about not being told/being lied to are basically false and a half-assed attempt to distance herself and her party from being exposed as having gone along with torture, which is exactly what they did.
  18. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5

    Again, that has no impact on the illegality of the actions of those who wrote those memos, signed off on them, or implemented them.

  19. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
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    Of course it doesn't; I'm not trying to say that torture in and of itself is legal. I'm saying that tbe Bush administration found a loophole by not calling it torture-hence the term 'enhanced interrogation techniques' and by having the Justice Department define waterboarding & so on as not being torture. Which is obviously ridiculous, but the fact of the matter is that there's no reason to believe that the CIA was lying to Congress about waterboarding because they basically had no reason to; the Justice Department created a convincing-enough fiction that the CIA was able to say "we're not torturing anybody" to Congress, which makes Pelosi's claims about not being informed clearly ridiculous.

    Of course, to anyone with half a brain and a willingness to learn, waterboarding obviously is torture, given that it can result in permanent physical damage and death. Unfortunately, the Democrats never had the balls to speak up six years ago and thus went along with it, and so now they're attempting to distance themselves from things they willingly allowed to happen by saying they weren't informed, which is utter nonsense.
  20. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    How many Democrats were informed, DarthBoba?

    And while I have absolutely no desire to stand up for Pelosi and I am perfectly willing to see her fall as a result of this (as long as the people who were actually involved in the policy are also hit), I see no reason to believe the CIA over her, especially in light of Senator Graham's notes.

  21. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I see no reason to believe the CIA over her, especially in light of Senator Graham's notes.

    But that's because you're ignoring who is saying what. Again, you're falling a bit into the trap that KW embraces. You're looking at government through a monolithic lens. It's not Pelosi vs the "CIA," it's Pelosi vs the Obama administration, and I'd think that if after being appointed, Panetta uncovered information that supported Peolsi, he'd release that instead of utterly crushing her. I mean, Obama and Pelosi are from the same party, right? Or maybe the situation transcends party politics? (certainly more so than some people are giving credit in here.)

    This is also why Panetta's comments are both so strong, and so utterly outside of the norm.

    First, Panetta wasn't even connected to the CIA when all of this happened. If you want to see a neutral third party in this case, it would be Panetta. In fact, the strongest criticism of Panetta still remains that he had absolutely no intelligence experience before being appointed to head the agency. (not just limited to the CIA, mind you-but none at all.) But this is Leon Panetta-who is a democrat, appointed by a democratic President- providing information that plainly says that Pelosi is lying, or is at least distorting the truth. The differences in focus is too striking to be ignored.

    Secondly, the director of the CIA has traditionally been non-political in the sense of remaining party-neutral. As the old saying goes- Administrations come and go, but the CIA remains behind the scenes.

    So again, to have Panetta release such a statement is not at all typical, especially since it is worded so strongly against Pelosi's claims.

    I mean the only thing that could be more strongly worded than Panetta's statement is if Obama himself stood before the country in a press conference and told the public that Pelosi was full of it. Politically, Obama might just want to move forward so strongly that he told Panetta to use Pelosi as a scapegoat, but I seriously doubt that even Obama would be that shrewd. Absent of that, I'd say the issue is all but over.
  22. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    Mr44, Panetta's statement is based only on the records the CIA kept of what they briefed and to whom (as you noted, he was just recently appointed director and does not have inside knowledge of the situation). Senator Graham found a couple examples of those records not matching up with his own, and the CIA conceded they were wrong. Is it not plausible the same thing happened in Pelosi's case?

  23. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Sure, keep going with that because again, it's not going to matter.

    Well, I guess it will matter right up until the point where Obama does give that press conference himself and tells the public that yes, Pelosi really is a raving lunatic and he just wants to move forward...

    What I mean is that at this point, every time Pelosi speaks it just makes the current administration look worse and worse.

    Hey, how is the national financial situation going?

    What about the administration's health care reform?

    Does anyone know or care that Obama just appointed a republican front-runner for President to be the new ambassador to China, which right now is probably the most important diplomatic post in the entire country?

    The fact is that other issues are falling by the wayside because the Speaker of the House won't shut up about something that happened years ago and she only continues to bring it up because she wants to cover her own backside... (and actually, it's doing nothing but backfiring right now.)
  24. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5

    So the fact that dozens of people died in U.S. custody, many of them from "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized by the President has nothing to do with it?

  25. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    44, Pelosi may well be complicit in what happened, and she deserves to be questioned under oath about it.

    I'm just floored by your ability to basically want to move on from or ignore real crimes committed by real people, regardless of the justifications used. Good intentions or circumstances are no defense, and they weren't at Nuremberg. Don't Godwin me, because if we're willing to move on from what happened because there are more "important" things, then we need to question what happened at Nuremberg at all levels, because I'm certain that none of the convicted Nazis would have been able to do much, if any, harm to civilization once they were out of power. For that matter, why bother trying people for crimes they committed many years or decades ago, regardless of what they did? If it's not current, everyone ought to be able to move on, right? You risk sliding down a slope more slippery than an oil slick.

    Real people died, 44. The people responsible need to be held to account. Period.
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