Torture

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

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  1. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    It is not a false dilemma from a legal standpoint.

    A basic principle of law is that which is not prohibited is allowed. It's a binary state: either legal or illegal. The law prohibits torture, but not other interrogation techniques. Therefore, interrogation techniques are allowable and acceptable under the law until they reach the legal threshold defining torture.

    Both manslaughter and murder are prohibited by law. Where is the corresponding legal prohibition regarding "pain or suffering" that doesn't rise to the level of torture ("severe pain or suffering")?

    Kimball Kinnison

    EDIT: And, your response completely ignores my point, in that even if you have a lesser charge than torture, you still are not giving usable criteria to determine when you have reached the threshold to violate that lesser charge. To use the murder/manslaughter example, there are also lesser forms of killing that are not considered a crime - such as justifiable homicide (self defense), or unavoidable accidents (such as a person running in front of a bus that could not possible stop, even when adhering to all traffic rules).
  2. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Here's where the topic gets fuzzy. The very reason that no absolute statute is set is done for the very reason that it shouldn't have to be. One employer of mine said that they set no minimum standard for the very reason that they could determine who are serious and who are not worth keeping.

    No statute is in place because there shouldn't have to be one. Anything that seems extreme due to circumstances very likely is, otherwise it should be very easy to know what would not be considered as such.
  3. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Well KK you seem to have missed my point which is that wherever the line for torture is, one step under that isn't acceptable behavior but prisoner abuse which is still not okay behavior

    In defining where the line was, and then toeing that line, you're still violating the law.

    The idea of a clear dividing line is completely unnecessary because the question isn't when does okay behavior turn into torture, it's when does unacceptable behavior turn into torture. With that sort of line it is perfectly acceptable to use a case by case basis depending on the specifics because the question isn't if they broke the law, but how severely.

    Now the line between prisoner abuse and okay behavior needs to be a lot clearer, but I'm prettys ure most of us here can understand that once you start removing the term severe from the phrase "severe pain and suffering" the count for prisoner abuse starts at slamming them into the wall once.
  4. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    "Anything that seems extreme due to circumstances"? That's an almost unusable standard, because you aren't really giving any guidelines to follow it.

    That's not how the law is supposed to work. Your definition is completely subjective. For example, look at the DOJ memos. They attempted to provide clearer legal guidelines of what would or not be legal interrogation techniques. That was done specifically to avoid violating the law. By your standard, you could sweep in after the fact and accuse interrogators who followed those legal guidelines of torture, war crimes, etc, simply because you decide that their acts "seem extreme due to circumstances".

    That's as bad a legal standard as Justice Potter's standard for obscenity: "I know it when I see it."

    Kimball Kinnison
  5. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    This is the kind of standard of which I would use; a case by case basis. If you use this as a standard, then you have a point of reference without explicitly creating a specific line not to cross. Interrogators would then see a limit by which they could avoid crossing. The problem then would be that if that line included waterboarding, then anyone could use that for virtually any kind of interrogation session without fear of prosecution.
  6. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    In the context of terrorist suspects being detained and interrogated by CIA and other agencies what exactly is the law on what constitutes unacceptable prisoner "abuse"? We know there is a law against 'torture' and we know the Bush government sought advice on its proposed 'enhanced interrogation techniques' in light of that law, but what is the applicable law which guides all other interrogation techniques which may amount to "abuse"?

    I think given this thread and the war crimes thread has focused on 'torture' no real attention has been paid to the legality of interrogation techniques which fall short of 'torture'.
  7. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Which is still not the same as saying anything that falls short of torture is legal. However, I'm not sure any of the "legal opinions" we've seen have really addressed that issue.

    I think most of us can agree though that once the distinction is pointed out, that the idea there are two categories, one of acceptable behavior and one of torture makes no sense. The article from the UN torture convention, which was ratified by the Senate, makes it clear that in accord with out common sense, such a category exists, but I am not a legal scholar and do not know exactly where in the US code to find further legal clarification.

    If I were to guess, however, the lack of focus on simple abuse as opposed to torture revolves around the Bush Administrations attempt to inculcate the idea that the "detainees" were somehow outside any legal system. While the Geneva Conventions are completely overarching, prisoner abuse implies a certain level of legal status as prisoners.

    I that vein, for those who support the Bush administrations policies, if you do not feel the "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" rise to the level of torture, what do you feel about accepting it as abuse?

    I can intellectually understand the argument it does not rise to the level of torture as a legal distinction, even if I disagree(strenuously), however to deny abuse would seem to me to be to reject the fundamental idea of human rights entirely.
  8. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    It was designed to be severe enough that the detainees would spill their darkest secrets.

    What are you trying to claim, that the terrorists gave up their secrets when they didn't feel their life was threatened or weren't under severe physical pain?

  9. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    What I think everyone believes is that the terrorists were tortured because they wouldn't say there was a link between Iraq and 9/11. At least I believe that they were coerced into saying something that wasn't true just to make the torture stop.

    Although you can force truth out through torture, you just as easily could coerce someone to say what you want them to say.
  10. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald today (from Washington):"CIA torture could create false memories".

    http://www.smh.com.au/world/cia-torture-could-create-false-memories-20090922-g0l7.html

    I didn't realize how much Khalid Sheikh Mohammed looked like Ron Jeremy.





  11. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
  12. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    That's what I've been saying, but not exactly to the extent that torture damages one's mindset. You can reasonably assume that just as easily that you can extract info, that you can also extract bad info.

    If anything else, it's immoral. So that means the torture advocates really have little or no case to justify what you get as being reliable.
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