It’s wrong.

by

Torture is wrong.  I know some may disagree with me.  I’m against torture for a number of reasons: I don’t think that it is effective, it’s illegal, I think that it lowers our moral standing around the world and I think it puts our service people at risk.  One day when I was driving I saw this sign and liked it.

p1010003Sign in front of the local Quaker Meeting House.

1. Torture doesn’t work.  I know that someone will say anything to end pain and suffering.  That’s the crux of it.  Even in an imaginary ticking timebomb scenario like you see on 24, a committed terrorist is just as likely to give bad info to end his suffering as accurate info.  Then we have a ticking timebomb and the good guys going off in the wrong direction.  It’s tough enough to find a needle in the haystack without making the haystack any larger.

2. Torture is illegal.  Our constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment.  There is no doubt that torture is cruel and unusual.  We’re trying to get info by applying cruel and unusual physical and mental mistreatment.  Torture is also illegal under UN conventions and international treaties that the US is a party to.  Holding a gun to someone’s head or waterboarding are both forms of mock executions and therefore illegal under both US and international law.

3. Torture lowers our standing around the world.  At one time the US was the shining beacon of hope.  Not so much any longer.  Now our major export appears to be weapons and war.  At one time we would speak out against rogue regimes that practiced torture, now we engage in the same acts that we once decried.  It’s pretty tough to condemn others who torture when we do the same stuff and send our captives to places like Syria and Egypt to be tortured.  Now we even outsource torture.

4.  It’s a race to the bottom.  If we torture their guys than how can we legitimately complain when they torture our guys.  When we engage in torturing captives it places all US citizens at greater risk.  As someone who still carries the scars of torture, ask Senator McCain about torture.

Is there anything we won’t do?

winter24Taking a rest.

winter4It’s tough to see here, but this is what we call a bowl.  We like to ski bowls because you can go side to side and downhill the whole time.  It means a longer ride and more turns for less effort.  Right before this picture was taken I took a good spill.  I was skiing down one trail, crossed another trail, went over the lip of this bowl, followed the fall line where a little frozen stream runs and then did a face plant.  Oh well.  No falls, no balls.

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17 Responses to “It’s wrong.”

  1. Pickdog Says:

    I agree. There is no real benefit to torture. Only cost.

  2. Sarcastic Mike Says:

    But it provides entertainment for our troops overseas. How else are they going to get their kicks?

  3. Ned Puddleman Says:

    One American life is with a million terrorist’s lives. Until this country realizes that we are at war and starts acting like it we are going to lose. The goal should be total war. Not only win the battles but destroy the will of the enemy to wage war. The enemy straps satchel charges to their bodies and take pride when that charge blows up and takes innocent American lives. That’s the kind of mentality we are dealing with. And yet, we are worried or morally outraged because of waterboarding?! Do you not realize they will torture our troops no matter what we do? We are dealing with an enemy that doesn’t value human life.

    War is cruel. The more cruel it is the faster it will be over and in the long run more American lives will be saved.

    Who really cares what the rest of the world thinks? Do you live your life the way OTHERS want you to or do you live it the way YOU want to? Other countries do not have this country’s best interests in mind. In fact, most of them hate us but love our money.

  4. Laconic Says:

    Unfortunately, you don’t know what you are talking about, and on many levels.

    Torture does, in fact, work, which is why U.S. military personnel are trained to hold out against coersive interogation and/or torture, and then give out information as slowly as they can. Since you recommend asking John McCain, go ahead and ask him. He was broken and he gave out information. No disgrace to him; anyone can be broken, given sufficiently painful interrogation.

    The U.S. Constititution has nothing to do with, nor does it speak to, the torture of foreign combatants . Furthermore, even the Geneva Protocols themselves–which do cover torture–do not apply to terrorist vermin. The Geneva Protocols apply to the uniformed military of signatory countries. Our guests at Club Gitmo are not uniformed military and, as such, are subject to summary execution on the battlefield when captured.
    Club Gitmo might be viewed as more humane and merciful than summary execution. Additionally, applying the Geneva Protocols to individuals that are not signatories to it nor covered by it actually weakens the value of the Protocol itself.

    You seem alarmed by waterboarding. You will be quite upset to learn, then, that hundreds of U.S. military personnel are waterboarded each year, and by their own colleagues. It happens during SEER training and other training regimes. It is also the case that the UN Human Rights Commission has declared that waterboarding, while unpleasant, does not rise to the level of torture. This determination was arrived at following hearings regarding the British treatment of IRA prisoners.

    As far as our leading a “race to the bottom”, that is a non-issue. We would not use these aggressive techniques on captured military personnel that were subject to the Geneva Protocols. Unless it were a dire emergency. And that is what we would expect from other responsible nations. On the other hand, if members of our military were captured by some nutjob country like North Korea or Iran, those troops would be at risk to be tortured regardless of how many treaties were in effect or how well we treated prisoners.

    And as far as our “standing in the world”, who gives a crap? Western countries are, for the most part, free riders enjoying security and prosperity on the back of all the heavy lifting we’ve done since 1942.

  5. Abraham Says:

    Laconic I can tell that you have never been involved in extracting information from unwilling informants. Am I right? Those that do actually have to get useful information from participants will tell you that it is a game of wits and not a matter of applying unpleasant force. The most successful interrogators will tell you that befriending someone in custody and getting them to trust you are both more effective strategies. Trickery works better than torture. You must enjoy the show 24, am I right about that too?

    You apparently are also someone that never had responsibility for the custody of others. As long as you have someone in your custody you are responsible for them. You can’t make up new names for people, enemy combatant, and secret them away in some gulag or secret prison like a third rate banana republic without destroying the very foundations of what this country was founded upon. Would be it okay with you if we slowly starved the enemy combatants? Are there any limits to your depravity?

    You also show an utter disregard for the rule of law along with faulty reasoning. How do you know that they are “terrorist vermin?” You don’t. How many of those being held in Gitmo are guilty? You don’t know that either. In my United States we have protocols in effect to make sure that we don’t deny liberty to individuals without due process regardless of race, creed, religion or nationality. All people everywhere are deserving of dignity and basic human rights. We shouldn’t grab innocent Canadian citizens and send them to Syria to be tortured. Please tell me that you’ve heard of Maher Arar. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/19/world/americas/19canada.html

    SEER training is voluntary. Having a rag stuffed over your mouth and nose and then having water poured down is a mock execution. You make the prisoner think that they are going to die. You don’t see the difference between having hostile forces holding you down in foreign lands in secret prisons and pouring water down your throat and military training entered voluntarily? Really?

    Did you honestly expect us to believe that the UN condones waterboarding? I can’t believe that someone apparently as well-spoken as you appear to be is that ill-informed. “U.N. says waterboarding should be prosecuted as torture.” http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKN0852061620080208?rpc=401

    Finally, your lack of care concerning the opinion of the global community is not only shortsighted, but downright dangerous. If you act like a bull in a china shop don’t be surprised when you get treated like a bull in a china shop.

    I can’t believe that I need to convince an adult that torture is wrong.

  6. RoadScribe Says:

    My father would also say you are wrong. During the last 18 months of the Korean conflict he was tortured in a POW camp. In Vietnam just before his retirement at 20 years his helicopter was shot down over the DMZ and crawling out that wreck he was captured, and returned to us in a flag draped coffin with his body so unrecognizable it was draped inside his casket. And should you decide to defend your country as he did and are captured, do you think your captors would not use torture.
    For that I must say you are wrong, for my family has been there.

    You have been RoadScribed
    I was told at 9 by my father, “Freedom is never free.”

  7. Laconic Says:

    Abraham,

    I never explicitly said that I condoned torture. I was simply replying to the 4 points that you made and challenged the premises that they were based on.

    I will state, for the record, that I am against torture for those covered by the Geneva Protocols, except in the most extreme of situations. I would find it irresponsible for leadership not to include that caveat.

    I do not watch TV and have never seen an episode of 24. I did, however, wear my country’s uniform for 8 years and was responsible for, and to, a lot of people.

    It is you who disregard and devalue the “Rule of Law” by applying it to situations where it is not applicable. Due process is reserved for citizens and legal visitors to the United States. The protections of the Constitutions do not apply to any individual that just happens to be alive on the planet Earth. The German spies/sabateurs that came ashore on Long Island during WW II were not given due process. They were tried by a military court and hanged. They were behind enemy lines in civilian clothing and were thus deprived of the protections of what we now call the Geneva Protocols. Nathan Hale was behind British lines in civilian clothes. He was hanged from the nearest tree.

    It is you who are making up new terms for people by forcing the extension of Geneva protections to those whom they do not apply to.
    The U.S. government is respecting the Geneva Protocols by not extending its protections to those who are not legally covered by them. By demanding that combatants who are: a. not in the uniform of an actual army and/or b. not from a signatory state be given the protections of the Geneva Protocols is to render those protections meaningless.

    The detainees at Club Gitmo are not secreted anywhere. Everyone knows where they are and the Red Cross has access to Camp X-Ray whenever it requests it.

    You leave unanswered my assertion that torture can and does work. You leave unanswered the fact that McCain and most of his colleagues, in the end, gave up information. They did it as honorably as they could, and their heroism remained undiminished.

    I did not say that the UN “condones” waterboarding. What I said was that the UN Human Rights Commission(and what a proud organization the UNHRC is, with both Libya and Syria serving on it!)stated that waterboarding did not rise to the level of torture.

    I think, Abraham, that it is you who has spent too much time watching TV. You live in a world of unreality if you are outraged at the thought of a pistol being held to an islamist terrorist’s head during an interogation.
    Islamist terrorists who kidnap children, bake them in an oven and serve them to the childrens’ families. Islamist terrorists who strap bombs onto women with Down Syndrome and send them into crowded markets.

    Sorry, I don’t think that aggressively interrogating these animals that walk on two legs destroys the “very foundations of what this country was founded upon.”

  8. Abraham Says:

    Roadscribe – would your father say that he was treated properly or incorrectly? Should we treat our prisoners properly or inncorrectly?

    “In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand at the mongrel dogs who teach. Fearing not that I’d become my enemy in the instant that I preach.”B. Dylan

    That is all.

  9. Laconic Says:

    Abraham,

    You continue to miss the point. Islamist terrorists ARE NOT SOLDIERS. But they are mongrel dogs.

    Peace.

  10. Abraham Says:

    And Laconic you still don’t get it. You are putting the cart before the ass. How do you know that every person being held is an “Islamic terrorist?” You don’t. And that is where your argument falls apart.

    “OTTAWA, Sept. 18 — A government commission on Monday exonerated a Canadian computer engineer of any ties to terrorism and issued a scathing report that faulted Canada and the United States for his deportation four years ago to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured.”

    An innocent man was spirited away to a foreign land where he was tortured and held in captivity for a year.

    When you don’t follow the rule of law and insure due process, innocent people lose their liberty and at least one was sent to Syria to be tortured.

    That is my issue. There is no process in place to make sure that only “Islamic terrorists” are being tortured.

    For some reason you have 100% faith that our government is correct 100% of the time separating the “mongrel dogs” from the innocent.

    Providing due process doesn’t dilute our Constitution, it promotes its health and longevity.

    BTW what do you call an American flyboy who drops bombs on Afghani or Iraqi weddings and funerals. Are they “terrorists” or “mongrel dogs” to you too or are those terms only reserved for Muslims?

  11. Jim Shy Wolf Says:

    I agree, Abraham: torture is wrong. Ain’t no doubt about it. To willfully inflict pain upon someone for the sake of garnering a bit of information that may be a)wrong, b)outdated, c)misinformation, is against all good human reason.
    However: so long as we’re fighting an enemy whose stated goal is eradication of an entire nation or race or religion; so long as we’re fighting an enemy who does not recognise the right of non-combatants; who willfully inflict pain and murder and display it on world-wide media; who have no compulsion against indoctrinating children to their hateful ideals and to using those children to self-destruct themselves in attacks that kill even more non-combatants, then they have surrendered their rights as well. They are not deserving of compassion.
    The Constitution of the United States is not applicable to non-American citizens. The Bill of Rights does not extend to non-American citizens. If the Founding Fathers of America had wanted a global scope to the Constitution, they would have written it thus. They didn’t. The government’s job as set forth in the Constitution is to protect the citizens of the United States, not the enemy.
    As to the Geneva Convention- it’s a wonderful set of rules set forth by people with good intentions. If you want to ask John McCain about torture- ask him how well the Geneva Convention rules served him, or the others with whom he was imprisoned. Ask any Korean Conflict veteran how well the Geneva Convention worked for them. Ask any veteran of Mogadishu how well the Geneva Convention worked for them. Ask any current hero in the Iraqi or Afghanistani zone how well the Geneva Convention works.
    It’s all well and wonderfully good to have rules, but only so long as both combatants agree to them. Marquis de Queensbury rules are fine and needed. But not in an MMA or other such ring. When an army goes to war, it’s a great feeling to the soldier to know he has rights guaranteed by some words most countries have signed on to. What the soldier is not told is that those same countries will not abide by the rules. Hasn’t happened in any war yet. Won’t happen in any of the future, either. Still, it’s comforting to the soldier to believe they will.
    When a person comes up to me and tells me he is going to kill me, I am not going to stand and allow him to do it. I am going to waste him. Period. I am not going to ask him to show me his authority to prevent me from doing so. He has none. On the other hand, I have two documents that tell me I am allowed to defend myself: The Bible and the Constitution of the United States. My country has the same two documents and has every right to follow them.
    I commend your zeal in valuing human life of all race and religion. I do not commend your zeal at allowing our homeland to be ruled by fools who are unwilling to do what it takes to win a war that will go on for decades. It’s my opinion we’re having these problems with terrorists because we are a nation that exercises rules the rest of the world does not want to play by. We learned in Viet Nam that there is no way to tell the combatants from the civilians, in fact, often both were the same depending upon the time of day. When this country is infiltrated/attacked by a foreign army, we will learn again ‘there are no civilians in a combat zone’.
    Shy

  12. Thales Says:

    As someone who has been trained to withstand and apply torture I can tell you it is absolutely an effective measure to extract information. Often enough the very threat of torturous activities is enough to elicit information from the weak willed.

    Torture is necessary and does not detract from the moral standards of this country. Constitutional law and US laws do not apply to these combatants, they are not covered under the Geneva Convention so I see nothing wrong with the application of torture when it is beneficial. You seem to think that we go from 0-60; no torture to water-boarding and mock executions. In reality a variety of methods are used in between. You claim that I don’t know the exact composition of the detainees and combatants at Gitmo, that may be true, but you DON’T know the methods that are used. If it can’t be assumed they are all combatants then you can’t assume everyone there is water-boarded.

    Sorry.

  13. Laconic Says:

    Abraham,

    C’mon, fool isnt much of name.

    Other than this thread, I enjoy your blog.

  14. Abraham Says:

    Laconic – your comments are good. I just draw the line at namecalling. It’s hard for me too sometimes to not degress into namecalling.

  15. Pissed Off Mike Says:

    “The U.S. Constititution has nothing to do with, nor does it speak to, the torture of foreign combatants.”

    No, but perhaps you may have heard of something like this:
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Notice this says all men, not all Americans, not all uniformed combatants of signatory nations.

    That’s not to say that someone who is in the USA can’t waive their rights by attempting to violate other’s rights. We call these people criminals and confiscate their rights. However, most Islamic terrorists are NOT committing crimes on US soil. No, they are fighting back against American interventionism. We have troops in 130 countries around the world. The primary grievance of Bin-Ladin and his followers are the American troops in the middle-east, propping up unpopular totalitarian regimes for our own end.

    Who do you think supported Bin-Ladin and gave him all those weapons that he now uses against us? We gave them to him to keep the Russians out of the middle east. (do some research on the Russian/Afghanistan war.)

    Who removed a popular, democratically elected Iranian leader and replaced him with a repressive, hated shah? Oh wait, that was us again.

    Not many Americans complained that Saddam was a horrible tyrant back when we put him in power.

    We (In the past it was Europe, then Russian, now America.) constantly meddle in, and destabilize the middle east for our own ends. We are vastly superior in military strength, and the vast majority of Islamic militants just want to strike back at who they perceive as the true oppressors.

    In case you didn’t know, many of the terrorists learned from, and use tactics developed by the French Resistance in WW2. They see themselves as doing to us, what the French did to the Nazi’s.

    Let me make this clear: I Do Not Agree With Them. I Do Not Support Them.

    The moment you decide that killing civilians is an acceptable way to wage war, you have forfeited your humanity, and thus the rights that go with being human.

    I just want to make the point that Terrorism is a symptom. The problem is our arrogant, petty, self-serving interventionist foreign policy.

    However, before you suddenly think Americans would never sink so low as to think that civilian targeting is a good way to wage war, think again.
    Assuming you can find some still alive, go ask the civilians of Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, Berlin, and every other German/Japanese city we fire bombed to the ground. Ask the Vietnamese if Napalm knows the difference between farmer and fighter. Ask the older Japanese Americans about their treatment in the forties.

    Ask the nations we use for military bases (all 130 of them) if we are welcome in their country.

    Torture is wrong. Lowering yourself to the level of the evil men you are fighting, is not an answer.

    We should be trying to solve the REAL PROBLEM, not debating the merits of methods for obtaining information used in possible treatment of one of the minor symptoms of the problem.

    Also, I just want to point out that TERRORISM IS NOT A MAJOR THREAT TO AMERICANS. The only americans who are threatened daily by Islamic Militants are our soldiers that have been sent to the middle-east by self-serving politicians (Both republican and democrat).

    Yes, 9/11 was terrible. But sending more troops out to bash more hornets nests with sticks is not a solution. It makes it worse.

    If you exclude 9/11 and military personnel, more Americans have been killed by LIGHTNING STRIKES than by international terrorism.

    9/11 was a result of what the CIA calls ‘blowback’ which refers to the unintended consequences of our foreign interventions.

    If we had never stuck our noses into the middle-east, then Arabs would still be doing what they’ve been doing for centuries; killing each other.

    Torture and Terrorism are MINOR issues that the media (and our irrational fears) have made to seem central issues. The Major issue is our disastrous foreign policy and the direct cause-and-effect consequences it has to our country and the world.

  16. Abraham Says:

    Shywolf- thanks for your stopping by and commenting. I learn something from everyone.

  17. susan Says:

    Hey Abraham, those are some fierce orbs in your to “torture is wrong” photo!

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