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Milton J. Madison - An American Refugee Now Living in China, Where Liberty is Ascending

Federalism, Free Markets and the Liberty To Let One's Mind Wander. I Am Very Worried About the Fate of Liberty in the USA, Where Government is Taking people's Lives ____________________________________________________________________________________________ "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." -Barry Goldwater-

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I am enjoying this debate going on with respect to torture these days in the US. The debate has revolved principally around waterboarding. Some classify the procedure of waterboarding as torture and some regard it as an aggressive interrogation technique. Some probably just think of it as proof that we Americans are evil people and deseerve everything that happens to us. So what is it? And who cares?

Well, one has to first ask is the US using torture? I would say not if the question is whether-or-not waterboarding is torture. We do not hang people up by their thumbs, burn them with cigarettes, push bamboo shoots under their fingernails, summarily execute prisoners and do other acts of permanent physical abuse to detainees. Those things are clearly torture. So what is waterboarding then? We do know that it does not injure the 'victim' permanently but is uncomfortable and appears to make detainees talk.

Waterboarding is a technique where the prisoner is tied to a board, angled gently head-down and pitchers of water poured on their face that stimulates a response similar to drowning.

The Defense Department is not allowed to use this technique but the CIA is as per Congress.

So, now that we know what it is, we can debate whether-or-not it is torture. I kind of fall on the side that it is not torture since it does not cause physical permanent damage. Simple answer to a simple problem. I do not consider psychological considerations in this answer and i do not think that it should play a role in the torture debate anyway.

Then one has to ask, who cares? Most rightly think that we should not torture detainees for 2 reasons; 1. It typically does not work and detainees generally will tell their torturers whatever they want to hear in order to end the pain. This is particularly appropriate when one is torturing a detainee in order to prosecute them for a crime and the 'confession' is used as evidence against them. This is not what is happening to the terrorists where aggressive techniques are being used. 2. Our adversaries on the battlefield use these techniques because the US uses them. The US actually trains soldiers to respond to this technique in interrogation situations. Its realistic to think that it can and will be used against our soldiers irrespective if we determine it is illegitimate. And what is the point of delegitimizing a relatively benign technique when much more brutal and deadly techniques are used by wild eyed Muslim fanatics anyway?

So, we as a people have to decide what techniques are reasonable in what situations. In this article, a former CIA agent has this to say....
These words could have immeasurable value if Mr. Kiriakou could unburden himself from inexplicable second-guessing. ABC's Mr. Ross asks if waterboarding "compromised American principles or saved American lives?"

Mr. Kiriakou says: "Both."

Bad question, bad answer.
As the article explains, the CIA agent says that it both saves lives and compromised American principles. Lose-lose? It cannot be. We can make a value judgement here. We either decide to lose lives of Americans and innocents of other countries, or selectively use aggressive techniques when warranted. It appears to me to be a very easy question to answer. I choose life as the driving factor in determining what is appropriate. It is a small price to pay and one that can be argued as justifiable. Save lives. Sounds good to me. tough to see the downside of this one.

But what do the Democrats do? Nothing! Good that they are taking a principled stand. I guess that the focus group results haven't come out yet. However, the press is taking a more aggressive stance as they try to protect Democrats and absolve them of all responsibility. In this article by the San Francisco Chronicle ominously titled Was Pelosi aware of CIA's tactics?, the debate is colored in conspiracy tones, trying absolve those Democrats that were aware of the technique years ago. What good does this do? This is the old 'When did they know and what did they do about it?' meme. Legalistic manure. But that is not the point. The question is:
Is it torture and if it is, does that trump the life saving aspects that have to be addressed

I think that this debate has transformed from the typical juvenile Bush bashing into America bashing. It appears to me as if certain people think that since the country is bad, that we don't deserve to protect ourselves. Is this reasonable as an approach? I simply do not think that these people should be trusted looking after our best interests.

And, so my readers know, I have been tortured. I know what torture is. I lived in New York and used to read the New York Times. That was a torture so criminal and heinous, that I would welcome waterboarding.


At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waterboarding has already been deemed torture by the US gov.
how do we proceed,

At 11:09 AM, Blogger glenzo said...

Who deemed it and when did they do so? The language in the laws is nto crystal clear. I read this recently...

But Congress quite deliberately chose not to limit the CIA to those methods, and thus tacitly gave the CIA approval to use unspecified forms of physical coercion.

Found here...



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