4 Former JAGs Speak Out About Waterboarding - Is It Torture?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by SMM, Nov 3, 2007.

  1. SMM macrumors 65816

    SMM

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    #1
    Four former heads of their branches Judge Advocate Generals Corp have collectively written a letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, head of the Military Judiciary Committee. Read what they had to say.

    For those who do not know, the JAG is similar to the Attorney General for civilian courts. There is only one of them (per branch) at any given time.
     
  2. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #2
    This is actually a pretty big deal, so I doubt it will get any play in the media.

    The Dems on the committee have already caved though, and the rest of the Congress will join them. The current offering from GW is probably the best they'll get without a fight, which is the excuse they're using since for some reason they don't want to fight. Despite having a majority of the rest of the country behind them.
     
  3. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #3
    "Waterboarding" is not a lot different from what the Kempeitai did to survivors of the Bataan Death March, and to others in Cabanatuan Prison.

    The Japs weren't as "humane", though. They just shoved a hose down your throat, turned on the water and after your stomach distended, started beating with iron rods. On occasion, they might use your stomach for a trampoline, which tended to be a one-time event.

    I just know that our folks wouldn't be so cruel.

    Sarcasm mode off.

    'Rat
     
  4. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #4
    Your cynicism is pleasing. :)
     
  5. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #5
    I dunno. I can see two hypothets: First, assume I lead a group in Indian Country with no friendlies. We catch some armed hostile. We need to know where his buddies are, and are very worried about ambushes.

    Shame on his sorry butt. He'll talk or hurt. My men are infinitely more important to me than any other concern.

    Next: In a prison. The prisoner is not merely somebody who's plotted some deal, or moved money around or any of that civilian-crime stuff. He's been taken in the POW sense, except no uniform and all those formal protections.

    There's no immediacy, IMO. Okay, I want an MD who's expert in the use of psychotropic drugs. And, somebody smart who can think in the prisoner's language. We'll suck him dry and he won't even know he's spilled the beans. No pain, no shame, no damage.

    "Rat
     
  6. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #6
    What makes you think he won't lead you into the ambushes? Doesn't wash.
    You're going to rely on information from someone who's off their head? Good plan. :rolleyes:
     
  7. samh004 macrumors 68020

    samh004

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    #7
    Is it torture ?

    Well put it this way, if you downloaded a music file illegally, and the RIAA came after you for it, would you complain when they water boarded you ? Or would you say that it was acceptable as they needed to get the truth out of you.

    Illegal file sharing doesn't compare to terrorism, blah blah, whatever... would it be acceptable if it happened to you for something to petty ?
     
  8. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #8
    skunk, while being led INTO an ambush might be a possibility, the odds are agianst it. There is a "why" for repetitive questions and pauses between. It's hard to keep one's lies consistent. It's hard enough without pain. Ask any cop or defense attorney.

    As to "off his head"? He's not. He's just very happy and willing to tell everything he knows about anything, to all these new "friends". The difficulty is in getting the SOB to shut up. Done properly, the dude will tell you about his childhood and who his friends were and what life was like and who his friends are now--which is what's wanted--and where he lives and what his phone number is and what his friends' phone numbers are--which is more of what you want--and all about his wife or girlfriend and who their friends are--which is more of what's wanted--and on and on and on. And he'll not remember, afterwards...

    'Rat
     
  9. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #9
    Hypothet #3: American troops are captured, and their captors want information about US ambushes post-haste. GIs are waterboarded to get such information; as obviously American lives are worth less to the questioner than the lives of his own men. Information gained is then used to avoid, or even ambush the ambushers.

    Any complaints from you about treatment of US prisoners? Any squaks if US boys are forced to "talk or hurt"?
     
  10. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #10
    mac, go back to my first post about my view of waterboarding as torture. I was sorta wondering when you'd show up and try to twist things all backwards.

    In the "Let's guess..." department, I really doubt that our guys would be treated so benevolently as to merely be subject to waterboarding. That's certainly not current history, when the folks with whom we're dealing think dismemberment on video is the proper way to do things.

    Overall, ugg is correct about the efficacy of torture inasmuch as the victim will tell whatever lies he thinks will stop the pain. Everything I've ever read, though, says that anybody will eventually break. The problem then is for the torturer to assess what's true from what's not true. And, again, everything I've ever read about the competent use of psychotropic drugs and skilled interrogation makes physical torture pointless. Physical torture is gratuitous physical violence, IMO.

    An interesting article about true, "professional" torturers claimed that most of them regard it as just a job, and after the day's work they go home to Momma and the kids, unconcerned about the morality of their work. Dunno if that's totally true, of course. The author claimed to have talked to some guys in South America; I'm vague about whether or not he talked to any Iron Curtain countries' torturers, though. I dunno. This was some twenty or more years back when I read it.

    'Rat
     
  11. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #11
    I didn't ask you whether you thought our guys would only be subjected to waterboarding. You're dodging the question. If one of your men was being waterboarded, would you shrug your shouders and say "that's acceptable to me", or would you raise holy hell to make it stop? I guess I shouldn't expect a straight answer. Pro-torture folks are generally loathe to discuss how they would feel should "enhanced interrogation techniques" be applied to our men and women.

    You are unclear about your position regarding waterboarding. It sounds to me like you only think it's bad if done with a live hose and people stomping on your bloated stomach. Is that a correct assesment, or are you saying anytime someone is subjected to simulated drowning it is torture? Or, like Guilani, do you believe it has to do with who is administering the technique?
     
  12. obeygiant macrumors 68040

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    #12
    :confused: Is this a trick question?

    I didn't know it was even in question what would happen to US soldiers of they're captured. "talk or hurt" doesn't seem to be the extent of it.

    Of course I don't want our guys tortured or dunked into a tank. Do I mind that its been done to KSM and others like him?.. NO.
     
  13. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #13
    I'm not questioning what would happen to American prisoners. I'm asking how YOU would react to hearing about it. Would you have the same level of complacency shown about foreign nationals being waterboarded if instead of foreign nationals it was American flesh and blood on the line? Or would you demand our government do something to prevent further such acts from being perpetrated on our men and women?
     
  14. gauchogolfer macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    #14
    I believe that waterboarding is torture and shouldn't be used by anyone. However, I often wonder at the link between our behavior and the behavior of others. If we put an outright ban on all forms of torture, even including things that are not currently categorized as such, how much of a difference do you think it would make in the way our captured soldiers are treated?

    I know of anecdotal evidence from times in WWII when Germans tended to surrender rather than fight to the death, because of their expectation of good treatment. Do we know that German soldiers treated our POWs better because of our policy?

    Again, I'm completely against torture, because I think it's not only morally reprehensible, but also ineffectual. I'm just not sure how much effect what we do has on what others do.
     
  15. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #15
    You at least have the moral high ground to demand that American troops are being treated with dignity - even if they aren't.

    Plus we signed the Geneva Conventions. If we don't abide by our word, why should anyone else?
     
  16. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #16
    mac, as long as we're playing silly games: Let's say you know from hard evidence that a suitcase nuke has been smuggled into your city. You have hard evidence that a person in your custody knows its location.

    You have, say, four hours total time before it detonates.

    How nice are you gonna be?

    'Rat
     
  17. gauchogolfer macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    #17
    I agree with you, mactastic. I'm just trying to communicate my thoughts about this. We should categorically ban torture, full stop. I'm trying to not be naive about what that means to our 'enemies'.


    Rat, these kind of hypotheticals are always brought up, but I'm not sure how much sense it makes. How would we know that whatever information we got would be actionable? With only 4 hours to verify, I'm not sure that any solution is possible. Torture doesn't seem to be the answer in your case.
     
  18. saltyzoo macrumors 65816

    saltyzoo

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    #18
    I have a hard time calling anything we do to our own (volunteer) special forces as training, torture. Severely unpleasant, sure. Long term physical or emotional damage? Nope.
     
  19. Mac OS X Ocelot macrumors 6502a

    Mac OS X Ocelot

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    #19
    I don't watch 24, so I missed that one. Sorry.
     
  20. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    Ha! I knew you would never answer my question. Didn't I call that out before you even responded? Your only defense is to ask another question of me. Typical.

    The difference is that during training you know it will end with you alive. Your state of mind in a torture situation is critical to the question of whether something is torture or not. Being waterboarded for a few minutes during a SEER event is not the same as the real thing.
     
  21. Much Ado macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

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    #21
    While we're on the topic of silly games, you have to make a choice between sacrificing 3 million people or subjecting the entire human race to imprisonment by a...

    Oh, yes- of course. This is a situation that would never occur. We do not live in an episode of 24. There are no nukes hidden in US cities, and yet the Water-boarding continues. Where do you draw the line? A terrorist sympathizer? A reformed terrorist?
     
  22. saltyzoo macrumors 65816

    saltyzoo

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    #22
    Yeah, I see your point. But then it's impossible to engage in war without torturing your opponent if the fear of death is the issue.

    Personally I think we should take the high road, but I'm still not convinced that water boarding is torture.
     
  23. Mac OS X Ocelot macrumors 6502a

    Mac OS X Ocelot

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    #23
    Drowning someone and then resuscitating them isn't torture? If you believe what the media tells you, then you believe it's "simulated drowning." It's not. It's real drowning. If that's not torture, then anything goes.

    EDIT: On a happier note, after WWII the U.S. convicted Japanese officers for the very same torture technique.
     
  24. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #24
    Fear of death is not the sole ingredient. The fact that you are doing violence intended to instill an immediate fear of death to a restrained captive pushes the behavior into the unacceptable area for me. That's different from managing fear in a combat situation where you have means and willingness to defend yourself at your disposal.
     
  25. Mac OS X Ocelot macrumors 6502a

    Mac OS X Ocelot

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    #25
    The reason this whole dispute (whether or not waterboarding is torture) is happening is not because anyone in the world actually thinks it isn't. The problem is that if the government admits it is, anyone that authorized its use is in huge trouble. Losing jobs trouble. Imprisonment trouble. That includes military officers, Administration officals, and even the President himself! Personally, if they could just admit that it's torture and stop I'd be content, but the law says otherwise. I don't think even the President can weasle out of that one.
     

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