Torture

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

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  1. GrandAdmiralPelleaon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 6
    Everybody thought Iraq had WMD's? Seems like a very selective recollection of the debate in 2003 from your side my friend.
  2. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Yeah, I see your point there, but by 2003, the issue was that no one knew what Iraq had...

    What I mean is that sure, you'd have to go back to 1998, 1999, 2000, etc.. to find quotes from Chirac, Clinton, Albright, etc.. The last speech he gave to Iraq, Bill Clinton was particularly blunt in describing Iraq's alleged WMD's. But that doesn't mean that all that history suddenly disappears by the time 2003 rolls around.

    But that's because it's what Hussein was telling everyone. He didn't let the UN in to inspect all his sites to promote a regional illusion that he was more powerful than he was. He told each of his high ranking generals that the others had WMD's to keep his own military in line. And do on, etc..

    Basically, Hussein "punk'd" the world with the issue, and Bush ended up calling his bluff. It then fell to Bush to pick up the pieces on Iraq's con job- of course, after the military operation was underway, and the invasion was committed to.
  3. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    You must have been living in a different 2003 than me, 44. It was always unlikely.

    "There were about 700 inspections, and in no case did we find weapons of mass destruction," said Hans Blix, the Swedish diplomat called out of retirement to serve as the United Nations' chief weapons inspector from 2000 to 2003; from 1981 to 1997 he headed the International Atomic Energy Agency. "We went to sites [in Iraq] given to us by intelligence, and only in three cases did we find something" - a stash of nuclear documents, some Vulcan boosters, and several empty warheads for chemical weapons. More inspections were required to determine whether these findings were the "tip of the iceberg" or simply fragments remaining from that deadly iceberg's past destruction, Blix said he told the United Nations Security Council. However, his work in Iraq was cut short when the United States and the United Kingdom took disarmament into their own hands in March of 2003.
  4. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Watto, all that's fine. I think the focus of my initial reply to Yathura seems to have gotten lost, and his post was off topic even back then. Suffice to say that I think the whole "leading up to Iraq" debate has been flogged to death, brought back to life, and then flogged again.
  5. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    The problem is that everyone thought Iraq had WMD's, because that's the regional balance of power game Hussein played, and ultimately lost. We could all go dig up the tired old quotes where Chirac, Clinton, and Albright all condemned Iraq for it's WMD's as well, but none of that is really necessary at this stage.

    I agree that as President, Bush faltered when it came time to justify the war, especially when it began to drag on, but one doesn't need all sorts of strange conspiracies in order to make it so either.

    ...

    Basically, Hussein "punk'd" the world with the issue, and Bush ended up calling his bluff. It then fell to Bush to pick up the pieces on Iraq's con job- of course, after the military operation was underway, and the invasion was committed to.


    I don't think this is a quite accurate reading of events. I think it's sort of close, but diverges from what I thinkis the case significantly.

    I think the main players, including Tenant, all felt that there were SOME WMD's in Iraq. However I don't think that very many of these people thought the presence of these was a serious threat. The reason WMD's was used as evidence to go to war was because everyone thought they'd find SOMETHING, and finding SOMETHING would really be all they needed to prove that war was in some way necessary to resolve the issue of Iraq and it's WMDs, and that the UN methods were not effective.

    The problem in my view was one of two mostly mutally exclusive things: firstly, that the findings of the UN inspectors was possibly not given enough credence or weight, certainly by the Bush administration and most probably the Clinton administration before it. Saddam interfered with the work of the inspectors, but many of them essentially didn't fall for the notion of being "punk'd" -- or if they were, then Blix and his predecessors somehow came up with a picture of Iraq's WMD situation that was more in line with reality than many intelligence agencies.

    Secondly -- more likely -- it may have been acknowledged by most that the inspectors were probably right, but that other non-legal political reasons demanded that Iraq be kept under sanction regardless of if it met the terms of the 1991 ceasefire or not: and that was simply that Iraq was ruled by a dictator that had begun at least two wars and ran a nation with immense oil reserves. The 1991 ceasefire was largely written with the expectation Saddam would be overthrown or otherwise taken care of, and with concerns to end the war quickly: it would have been difficult to have Saddam agree to his own removal.

    Thus, I'd say that in practical fact by the time Clinton came to power and afterward, the ceasefire and it's precipts were never the prime reason for the pressure on Saddam. And once the inspectors carried out the majority of thier work in the 90s, the current WMD situation was not really the prime reason either. The real reason was the nature of Saddam's regime and it's access to resources were it allowed the freedoms any other nation enjoyed -- situations that are not so dissimilar with other nations in the world, but with Iraq there was a clear means of keeping the problems in check, which was keeping the 1991 ceasefire as a legal pretext for decisions made that had much more to do with Saddam himself than the agreement he signed.

    The problem of course was that the legal pretext had by even before 2002/3 run out of steam, and even if the inspectors were believed they themselves were rightly skeptical over a situation on which they were more correct than even they would give themselves credit to being since they could not state everything with 100% confidence. Everyone thought there had to be SOME small traces of WMDs somewhere in Iraq: after all given the nature of Saddam Hussein and his previous use of these weapons, it seemed a foregone conclusion that he would try to keep some of it, even if it was only 0.001% of his original stocks: and that would be all that was necessary.

    As it turned out, for whatever reason, Saddam didn't even have THAT. Which was a surprise t
  6. Rogue_Follower Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2003
    star 6
    Something tangentially torture-related: there's an interesting editorial over at Salon.com today, regarding the Obama administration's stance on the detainee abuse photos. I have to agree with the author with regards to the Freedom of Information Act---it lacks teeth if it can be tossed aside whenever politicians find it inconvenient.
  7. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Isupport this move and would support this move if it had been initiated by Bush. The publication of those photos will do nothing other than place US and Allied troops at risk.

    The photos are apparantly extremely shocking depicting rape and other atrocities. Why would you want those pictures released to the world?
  8. DeadOrAlive Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2009
    star 2
    I agree, even though I think they ought to be released eventually.
  9. Rogue_Follower Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2003
    star 6
    Except that the proposed act doesn't just cover those specific photos. It's a bit more broad, covering:
    [...]a photograph that was taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained after September 11, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States[...]

    It sounds as if the Secretary of Defense can refuse to release any photo (9/11/01 to 1/22/09) relating to any detainee (detained by US armed forces outside the US,etc.), without recourse (i.e. no Freedom of Information Act interference.)

    My main problem isn't with Obama's decision not to release the photos---I understand the reasoning behind it, though I'm still on the fence (is keeping these photos secret any better than China keeping photos of Tiananmen Square secret?) It's what appears to be a belief that the FOIA can be easily cast aside, and the way this act continues the trend of concealing evidence of wrongdoing.

    However, I don't know how much precedent exists, so this could be just par for the course...

  10. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Since this thread is still active, maybe I could bring it up so that torture will be addressed here and not in the Bush war crimes thread.

    I simply think that torture should be abolished entirely under the US laws. Simple as that is that we should be above such things.
  11. CucumberBoy Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2007
    star 3
    Yeah whether it works or not is irrelevant. It makes you an animal. It's that simple.
  12. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    The problem isn't ththe question of if torture should be abolished. It's the question of whether or not particular techniques are or are not torture.

    This is a problem because you can't just draw a line and say that anything 1.0 mm to this side of the line is torture, while anything 1.0 mm to the other side isn't. Do you define torture as something causing extreme pain? How do you differentiate between "extreme" pain and just "regular" pain? Do you simply forbid anything that might cause pain, up to and including sitting in an uncomfortable chair?

    If you define torture as including making someone fear for their life, then how do you handle people with outright irrational fears? If you were interrogating someone with an intense fear of white people (thinking they all want to kill him), does that mean that having a white interrogator would be torture?

    Some people can go days on very little sleep. Others have great difficulties going even one day without sleep. Does that mean that not letting someone get 8 hours of sleep each night is torture? How about 6 hours? (I often go on only 5 hours a night. Am I therefore torturing myself?) 2 hours? Does that mean that if you wake them after 1 hour 59 minutes, it's torture, but waking them after 2 hours and 1 minute it isn't?

    It's easy to conceptually say that torture should be abolished entirely, but that doesn't actually do anything until you can actually get people to agree on what exactly is or is not torture.

    Kimball Kinnison
  13. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    If you force a person to sit in it, then it is. Any attempt to deliberately inflict physical pain could be construed as torture. If a person does not want to be waterboarded, then forcing it upon him is torture. If a person doesn't like sitting in an uncomfortable chair... or being handcuffed to a backless chair kind of way... he can simply stand.

    Not so, because the interrogator is a person as well and he is obligated to do his job. If there are reasonable measures that could be taken against someone with a mental condition, but aren't... that's a deliberate act. If someone was bipolar and the interrogator simply didn't know, that was due to ignorance.

    If you also were to forbid a person from using the rest room during a session, that actually would not be considered torture... the guy isn't being forbidden from urinating at any point. As strange as that seems, this isn't inflicting physical pain.
  14. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    And yet, you could also define forcing someone to stand as being torture.

    Will you please look at what you are saying? You can construe anything to be torture, depending on the individual you apply it to.

    What you are basically saying is that the only acceptable interrogation method would be to ask nicely, and then if that doesn't work say "Pretty please with sugar on top."

    Except that you can perform torture without inflicting any physical pain. The UN Convention against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment defines torture as:
    For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
    Note the part I put in blue? The UN's definition of torture includes not just physical, but mental pain. That could include the humiliation of being forced into urinating on yourself.

    And yet, even with that definition, it would seem to allow more than you do, because you set the standard of inflicting any pain. The UN standard only restricts using "severe pain or suffering". My point is that when you have the term "torture" legally defined like that, it still doesn't help in producing the actual guidelines of what actually is or is not torture. Where do you draw the line in determining at what point denying someone sleep causes "severe pain or suffering" as opposed to merely inflicting "pain or suffering"? How do you make that determination? What standard is used, and how are you quantifying things to measure the act against that standard?

    These are not easy questions, because there are no clear lines. It is almost all shades of gray, and where you would draw that line is far different from where others would. It simply isn't as simple as saying "We need to eliminate torture".

    Kimball Kinnison
  15. ShrunkenJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2003
    star 5
    Cross-posting what I said in the War Crimes thread... my argument on where I would attempt to draw the line is thus:

    Intent as well as (even more important) likely perceived intent. Is mere imprisonment or accusation of a crime either intended or likely to be perceived as an actual attempt on one's life, health, or fundamental values, etc - things which could easily be psychologically damaging, things which form a person's sense of self and ego? I don't think so.

    On the other hand, various torture techniques are designed to be perceived as such -- for example, waterboarding is simulated drowning, the very nature of it conditional on it being taken as an attempt on one's life. The very basis of ego and sense of self, naturally traumatic. Very, very different.
  16. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    I'd say anything that comes from the Spanish Inquisition should be considered torture. Like waterboarding. The rack. Thumbscrews. We can go on from there, but all the really nasty techniques of torture are derived from that era. It's kind of sad how much we're like the people we torture now. There shouldn't even be a debate on this issue, but there is. That's rather strange. I do agree with the assessment that we're a nation of cowards considering how badly we've behaved after 9/11. Torture, invading Iraq, etc. Is there any more of a perfect example of how much we're cowards than torturing? Only cowards torture. Or people with er...manhood issues.. Probably both. But the point is that torture is not the behavior of a so-called civilized nation.

    It's also weird that the most religious among us seem to have no problem with torture. Granted I think there's a reason for that, but it's interesting to note. I guess God's a-okay with torture?
  17. CucumberBoy Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2007
    star 3
  18. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I agree 100%. It's a problematic concept and the more we try and apply legal controls and legal definitions the more problematic it becomes.
  19. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Okay maybe I neglected the mental aspect with my last post.

    My point is that if torture... (whatever could be construed as an extreme level and deliberate intent to inflict physical or mental anguish)... If something that can be defined as torture can be legalized under certain circumstances, then that makes it possible for anyone to be locked up an subjected to extreme anguish legally. I could understand the process of being restrained and incarcerated before a trial, but if someone could beat 'the truth' out of me in order to get a confession... that is not possibility that I would ever want to live with.


  20. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9


    Former USMC Commandat General Charles Krulak denounces Cheney, Torture



  21. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Here is the perfect example which shows torture not only hasn't worked, but where it provided the excuse for the War in Iraq. That is why it not only shouldn't be used, but shouldn't even be trusted to work.
  22. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    And yet, you are still missing my point.

    How do you legally determine when something is torture? Torture is defined as "severe pain or suffering", but that doesn't actually tell us where the line is. How do you differentiate between causing "pain or suffering" and causing "severe pain or suffering"? Is there some sort of absolute boundary? Or is it relative and variable depending on the individual? You might be able to go 2 days without sleep without considering it suffering, let alone severe suffering, while I might only go 24 hours and consider it severe.

    In your arguments, you are saying that we shouldn't torture, but you aren't providing any way to differentiate between torture and acceptable behavior. Sleep deprivation can be a very effective technique to lower someone's defenses, and yet when taken to extremes can be considered torture. How do you determine when you have crossed that line?

    You can't just say it's obvious, because if it were then we wouldn't have such a long and active thread on the subject. Just because you think it's obvious doesn't mean that your interpretation is shared by everyone. (That was the whole point of the DoJ memos on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. It was an attempt to draw the line between what was permissible under the law and what was not.)

    Kimball Kinnison
  23. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Actually the problem here is your choice of duality, namely Torture/Acceptable behavior.

    The idea that if it's not torture it's acceptable is inherently pernicious. The reason the Torture statute is worded that way is because every act of misconduct is not supposed to be characterized as torture.
    "Severe pain or suffering" is torture, which means that by embracing that lying duality you believe there inherently wrong with inflicting "pain and suffering" as long as it does not reach some threshold of severe.

    It would be similar to ignoring manslaughter and arguing that, as long as it's not murder, it's okay.

    False dilemma.
  24. Brett_Bass Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 4
    What is the 'manslaughter' equivalent on the torture sliding scale? There are legal degrees of murder, then there's manslaughter, wrongful death, et al. What is the legal breakdown of the degrees of 'torture-ness'?
  25. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    I'm not fully clear on that, but I would like to point out the same UN anti torture statute which uses the terminology "severe pain or suffering" contains article 16 which says:

    "Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article 1, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture or references to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

    Now I absolutely still think prisoners were tortured, but to try and reduce it to a "torture/okay" dichotomy is inherently false.

    I would presume anything less than torture would simply be called prisoner abuse.
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