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Author Topic: USA admits to torture?
Blayne Bradley
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On the Daily Show the implication is that the Bush Administration said "we do not torture" saying that the Obama Administration put out a memo admitting that yes, we do torture and this is what we do. With lots of funny views of Right Wingers complaining that now the terrorists can now train to be prepared to be tortured blah blah.

I thought everyone already knew all of this?

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aspectre
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Bush officials to be prosecuted? The US might have to.
The InternationalCriminalCourt charter states that if the nation in which crimes against humanity occurs fails to undertake proper legal actions, then the ICC gains jurisdiction.

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Blayne Bradley
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Woot!
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
I thought everyone already knew all of this?

I thought so, after all its public knowledge that the Americans copied, developed, and have been using water-boarding ever since the Korean War.

quote:
A CIA interrogation training manual declassified 12 years ago, "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation -- July 1963," outlined a procedure similar to waterboarding. Subjects were suspended in tanks of water wearing blackout masks that allowed for breathing. Within hours, the subjects felt tension and so-called environmental anxiety. "Providing relief for growing discomfort, the questioner assumes a benevolent role," the manual states.

The KUBARK manual was the product of more than a decade of research and testing, refining lessons learned from the Korean War, where U.S. airmen were subjected to a new type of "touchless torture" until they confessed to a bogus plan to use biological weapons against the North Koreans.

link
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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
Bush officials to be prosecuted? The US might have to.
The InternationalCriminalCourt charter states that if the nation in which crimes against humanity occurs fails to undertake proper legal actions, then the ICC gains jurisdiction.

Although I wish it were otherwise, the US doesn't recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC. Without a voluntary submission, the ICC has no means of enforcement.
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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
I thought everyone already knew all of this?

A lot of people did; that's part of what Obama is citing as justification for declassifying the documents in question.
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King of Men
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There's a difference between "everyone knows" and "the government publicly states".
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Sterling
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It's been really disturbing reading the combination of "Terrorists deserve whatever's coming to them, they do far worse things to people from the United States" and "Obama's going to tear the country apart on this one issue and then he'll be a one-termer" from some on the right wing in comments on the news sites.

Frankly, I think it's extremely wishful thinking on their part (if Obama actually is a one-term president, I suspect it will be much more as a result of failure to bring about an economic turnaround), but at the same time I just want to snap, "What's wrong with you people?"

[ April 22, 2009, 10:36 AM: Message edited by: Sterling ]

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Mucus
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The Daily Show had a great series of clips.

"Gee, why did you tell everyone?" and "Maybe its better if we just move on and forget this."

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andi330
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I don't like the "It's ok we did it because it worked" attitude that Cheney has about it. That doesn't make it right or ok. It just makes it effective. We wouldn't be saying it was ok if Iraq used the technique to determine when the US was going to invade, we'd be screaming for prosecution of the individuals who did it.
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DarkKnight
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quote:
We wouldn't be saying it was ok if Iraq used the technique to determine when the US was going to invade, we'd be screaming for prosecution of the individuals who did it.
If an American civilian was committing terroristic acts in Iraq I would not scream at all.
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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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Pray tell, which Iraqi civilians were commiting terrorist acts on American soil?
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Omega M.
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quote:
Originally posted by andi330:

I don't like the "It's ok we did it because it worked" attitude that Cheney has about it. That doesn't make it right or ok. It just makes it effective.

The problem with effectiveness justifying any torture is that you're not certain the people you're torturing even have information. There are some situations in which I'd pardon an interrogator who tortured a captive, but they probably almost never come up outside of movies.

They should let us know exactly how effective our interrogation techniques were, though, just to let us feel confident that we're not hurting ourselves by not using certain techniques (assuming they gave us almost nothing).

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King of Men
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The principle doesn't seem very different if you insert 'Saudi Arabian' for 'Iraqi'.
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The Rabbit
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One of the memos said they water boarded one prisoner 183 times. One hundred and eighty three times and then they decided that a) it wasn't working and b) it might be crossing the line.

Given that fact, it makes me sick that Cheney is still arguing that this was necessary to keep America safe.

If Cheney thinks that the American people would support this if they knew how much valuable information was gained, why didn't he declassify the information while he was still in a position of power? Its not like this scandal wasn't made public then.

I have a pretty good idea why, that priceless information obtained by torturing prisoners doesn't actually exist. But now that Cheney is out of power, he can keep asserting that it exists and that Obama is covering it up by refusing to declassify it. It won't matter what the Obama administration declassifies, Cheney can keep claiming that they are still hiding the critical piece that would prove him right. We know for a fact that Cheney deliberately mislead the American people about the contents of classified information in the lead up to the Iraq war. He has proven that he is perfectly willing to dissemble whenever it suits his need. Why should we believe he isn't lying this time?

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by DarkKnight:
quote:
We wouldn't be saying it was ok if Iraq used the technique to determine when the US was going to invade, we'd be screaming for prosecution of the individuals who did it.
If an American civilian was committing terroristic acts in Iraq I would not scream at all.
Would it bother you if the American they choose to torture wasn't the one who committed the terrorist acts?

None of the people we are talking about have been convicted of any crime. Whatever happened to considering people innocent until proven guilty.

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kmbboots
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Even if it were true "because it works" is not a good defense because then where is the limit? If chopping off fingers or breasts or noses worked would that have been justified, too?
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Even if it were true "because it works" is not a good defense because then where is the limit? If chopping off fingers or breasts or noses worked would that have been justified, too?

What about the rack, the iron maiden, thumb screws? If it worked would you approve of impaling people, drawing and quartering them, burning them? Anyone who argues that torture is OK if its gets desirable results has indeed lost their moral compass.
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Lalo
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quote:
Originally posted by DarkKnight:
quote:
We wouldn't be saying it was ok if Iraq used the technique to determine when the US was going to invade, we'd be screaming for prosecution of the individuals who did it.
If an American civilian was committing terroristic acts in Iraq I would not scream at all.
Moron.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by DarkKnight:
If an American civilian was committing terroristic acts in Iraq I would not scream at all.

Indeed. And you haven't. At least that much is consistent.
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DarkKnight
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quote:
Would it bother you if the American they choose to torture wasn't the one who committed the terrorist acts?

None of the people we are talking about have been convicted of any crime. Whatever happened to considering people innocent until proven guilty.

That depends on what the American was doing at the time. If the American was helping construct roadside bombs but was not the one who set them off then they are still committing terroristic acts. Is it your assertion that none of the prisoners have committed a crime? You seem to be under the assumption that we waterboarded every single person picked up. Why doesn't Obama do what Cheney suggested and release all of the documents?
quote:
Moron.
I know you are but what am I?
quote:
Indeed. And you haven't. At least that much is consistent.
Why would I scream about someone being waterboarded if their intent is to kill as many innocent civilians as they can?
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Is it your assertion that none of the prisoners have committed a crime?
It is my assertion that some of the prisoners have not committed any crimes and we don't know which ones they are. If we do know which ones committed crimes and which ones didn't, why are we still keeping the innocent ones prisoner?
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by DarkKnight:
[QB]Why would I scream about someone being waterboarded if their intent is to kill as many innocent civilians as they can?

Because it's a dumb policy which harms us and is a moral failure and didn't even work in the first place.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by DarkKnight:
Why would I scream about someone being waterboarded if their intent is to kill as many innocent civilians as they can?

First, you do not in fact know their intent as many others have pointed out.

Second, water-boarding has been internationally established as a war crime which when inflicted on Americans in WII by Japanese soldiers was punishable by 15 years of hard labour.

Unless you thought it was ok back then, it would simply be hypocritical to consider it ok now.

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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
One of the memos said they water boarded one prisoner 183 times. One hundred and eighty three times and then they decided that a) it wasn't working and b) it might be crossing the line.

Given that fact, it makes me sick that Cheney is still arguing that this was necessary to keep America safe.

If Cheney thinks that the American people would support this if they knew how much valuable information was gained, why didn't he declassify the information while he was still in a position of power? Its not like this scandal wasn't made public then.

I have a pretty good idea why, that priceless information obtained by torturing prisoners doesn't actually exist. But now that Cheney is out of power, he can keep asserting that it exists and that Obama is covering it up by refusing to declassify it. It won't matter what the Obama administration declassifies, Cheney can keep claiming that they are still hiding the critical piece that would prove him right. We know for a fact that Cheney deliberately mislead the American people about the contents of classified information in the lead up to the Iraq war. He has proven that he is perfectly willing to dissemble whenever it suits his need. Why should we believe he isn't lying this time?

183 times in a single month.
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Sterling
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There were a fair number of things that were "okayed" as interrogation techniques that I don't think should be done to anyone. And the thought of them being done to American P.O.W.s ought to give those who think otherwise some pause.

We don't win the moral high ground by saying "But we only immerse them in solutions of no more than 20% hydrochloric acid" or "We only pull off part of the fingernail." We win it by saying "we don't torture" and putting it into practice in a way that would cause the vast majority of people to recognize that statement as true.

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Samprimary
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WHAT WE LEARNED

1. The good intelligence we got out of suspects came before the torture started.

2. The torture itself gave us basically nothing.

3. Torture turned out to be less effectual than befriending suspects and/or playing good cop/bad cop with them.

4. The interrogators very often did not even believe themselves that the torture would get us any new information, as they were well versed in interrogation and as such had personal understanding of the failures of torture.

5. There never, never was a ticking time bomb scenario, of the kind commonly assured to us by armchair chickenhawkels. Surprise, right?

6. The "high value" of torture targets was vastly overstated and they were just torturing subjects more or less on experimental grounds; there was no concrete definition of a "high value" subject and no intent to discriminate thusly.

7. We waterboarded a person 183 times in a month. We deprived someone of sleep for 11 days in a row, and in addition to other clear cut episodes of torture ó not 'enhanced interrogation,' the outright, indefensible, definite torture of individuals ó we have point by point transcripts of interrogation methods which are decidedly cruel and unusual.

8. The torture began before the first memo justifying torture was produced, so anything said about how the torture was just following bad legal advice is absolute horse poop.

9. As Time has recently helped note: The techniques the CIA drew on ultimately go back to an article written for the Air Force about Chinese torture techniques during the Korean War, entitled "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions from Air Force Prisoners of War." As the title indicates, the Chinese intent was to produce false confessions, not obtain vital intelligence.

10. I was right, Picard was right, and if you agreed with me, you were right too. :smug.gif:

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Rakeesh
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quote:
If an American civilian was committing terroristic acts in Iraq I would not scream at all.
Why not?

Does torture become acceptable or at least tolerable to you if it's in retaliation for or in an effort to prevent terrorism?

What if it's to stop serial killers? Or gang violence? Those two things can be pretty big in the death counts too.

And of course there's also the issue of whether or not it works, and I think you'll have to agree that question is unresolved at the least.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
...
9. As Time has recently helped note: The techniques the CIA drew on ultimately go back to an article written for the Air Force about Chinese torture techniques during the Korean War, entitled "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions from Air Force Prisoners of War." As the title indicates, the Chinese intent was to produce false confessions, not obtain vital intelligence.

Ultimately, this may have been the intent.

quote:
The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and Saddam's regime.

...

"There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, especially the few high-value ones we had, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people to push harder," he continued.

"Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies."

Senior administration officials, however, "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information," he said.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/66622.html

As Krugman puts it,
quote:
Letís say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Letís say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.
So the Bushies committed crimes against humanity in order to justify the crimes against humanity they were planning to commit.

"Lost our moral compass" is way to generous. These people are evil. I want to see their full crimes made public and the responsible parties properly punished. Its not about revenge or refusal to move on. Sometime you can't move forward without making proper recompense for the past. Trying these leaders is important for us as Americans to reassert that these are not the values we want as a foundation for our society.

The Nuremberg trials were an incredibly important for the transformation of Germany. Without them, I doubt Germany would have been able to so fully reject fascism or build the ethical society they have built.

As America we've spent way too many years avoiding dealing with the hard truths of our past. We still have come to grips with McCarthy, Vietnam, Watergate, or Iran/Contra, and those are just the last 50 years. It isn't time to move on until we know the truth, make a clear stand about we as Americans will and will not tolerate in our leaders, and make reconciliation with those we have injured.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
The Nuremberg trials were an incredibly important for the transformation of Germany. Without them, I doubt Germany would have been able to so fully reject fascism or build the ethical society they have built.
That's an interesting take on a process not begun or implemented by Germans. The imminent threat of the Soviets certainly tempered their rejection of fascism, to say the least.

Rabbit, I agree that if these things are true* - and as time passes, and further documents come to light, that seems more and more likely - there needs to be some serious redress in the form of trials. Not that there ever will be, but there should. But I have to admit I view with skepticism your claim that 'it's not about revenge'.

Are you saying you wouldn't get any vengeful satisfaction out of that sort of thing?

*One thing I wonder about. I am surprised if our people weren't able to get the pretexts they needed if they were actually going about such unfettered methods as this.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
As Krugman puts it,
quote:
Letís say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.

Yeah what a great president.

Such a moral bulwark. We should definitely be singing his praises.

Seriously though, bush's legacy defenders have essentially been slapped in the face by this.

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Omega M.
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:

Even if it were true "because it works" is not a good defense because then where is the limit? If chopping off fingers or breasts or noses worked would that have been justified, too?

There are some cases in which I'd do whatever was necessary to get information. But I'm sure they have a negligible chance of happening outside of the movies.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Are you saying you wouldn't get any vengeful satisfaction out of that sort of thing?
I've never found revenge to be particularly satisfying. Perhaps I am deceiving myself but revenge is not something that particularly motivates me.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
quote:
quote:
The Nuremberg trials were an incredibly important for the transformation of Germany. Without them, I doubt Germany would have been able to so fully reject fascism or build the ethical society they have built.
That's an interesting take on a process not begun or implemented by Germans. The imminent threat of the Soviets certainly tempered their rejection of fascism, to say the least.
The value of Nuremberg to Germany was that it made public all the secrets of the Nazi regime. By putting all the "classified" crimes on public trial, Nuremberg made possible German introspection about the war and about the culpability of individuals. The data presented at Nuremberg laid the foundation for public discussion that continues today and has resulted in a major cultural and ethical shift in Germany.

Hitler was able to do what he did in part because he controlled the flow of information. Nuremberg opened all those secrets to public scrutiny.

A trial would be an opportunity for public discourse about what really happened and whether it was justified or unjustified. That discourse is a necessary part of ethical progress.

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Lalo
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Are you saying you wouldn't get any vengeful satisfaction out of that sort of thing?

Revenge? Nobody here wants Bush tortured. Just imprisoned for life.

I want justice and transparency, not revenge. Worthless bastards like this aren't worth my attention, just my disgust -- try them, jail them, and let's try to fix all the harm they've done. And along the way, let's hopefully learn a lesson about electing Republicans.

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Darth_Mauve
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Face it. Torture is illegal. We have laws against it just as we have laws against taking illegal drugs.

So lets see what we get when we change Torture to Drug Use. We change Water Boarding to Marijuana.

We have political people who left memos encouraging soldiers and governmental employees to Do Drugs. They state that its important, necessary, and fine. The Vice President basically says, "Just Do It."

In short, they became the dealers for the drugs.

When this is discovered President Bush quickly says that, "We are against illegal drug use. It is not what we stand for, nor what the US stands for. Those caught doing serious drugs will be sent to prison. However, there are some who even right now may be smoking Hemp. That's OK. Hemp is not a Drug. Hemp is not Marijuana. Trust me."

Then later we have Vice President Cheney saying, "Yeah, so we had people doing a little Coke. We had some uppers and some speed going, but hey--look at the increase in their performance. Its not "Drugs" its performance enhancement--like Steroids. It was a national emergency. Lives were saved because our troops, our people, were running on Speed."

Now arguments can be made that people are more or less efficient under special medications.

That doesn't stop it from being illegal.

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The Rabbit
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The problem with your argument Darth_Mauve is that in our civilization it is widely agreed that torture is grossly immoral, a crime against humanity, one of the worst things a person or society can do. We don't just think its illegal, we are in broad agreement that its a really really bad thing. Bans against torture are enshrined in our constitution, the universal declaration of human rights and numerous treaties.

In contrast, a lot of people think using drugs isn't a particularly bad thing. The last 3 presidents of the US used marijuana in their youth. By most accounts, Bush used cocaine when he was in college. Nearly half of American adults admit to having tried illegal drugs. So while drug use is illegal, we certainly don't have any consensus that it is immoral. Comparing breaking laws against torture to breaking laws forbiding the use of certain drugs is ridiculous. Its like comparing murder to jay walking.

Imagine if I'd said, 45% of adult Americans admit to having water boarded someone. Our last three presidents all admit to having tortured someone while they were in college. Do you think there is any chance that Obama would have been elected if he had confessed to torturing someone in his misguided youth? Do you think even republicans would have backed George Bush is he had admitted to torturing Vietnam POWs while he was in the Texas national guard?

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Rakeesh
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I'll believe Rabbit when she says she wouldn't take any vengeful satisfaction in Bush being put up on charges.

You making the same claims? Let's just say that is greeted with substantial skepticism and leave it at that.

--

Not that I think there's anything that bad about feeling vengeful satisfaction in this sort of thing, or even that the question is important compared to larger considerations.

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Lalo
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"Vengeful satisfaction"? What? I also take "vengeful satisfaction" in Nelson Mandela's freedom and the Allied victory in WWII.

You're so weird, dude. Do all your arguments consist of semantic nitpicking?

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Darth_Mauve
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Rabbit, I don't mean to equalize torture with drug use.

What I want to point out is that the same people who demand prosecution and long jail terms for any drug offense, and would make certain to ruin the career and reputation of any politician, soldier, or government worker who breaks the law in such a way, are the same ones arguing that "The past is the past and we should just forget about it" when it comes to these torture charged.

Heck, they refuse to discuss immigration reform for fear of giving amnesty to people who have worked hard and paid taxes for decades, because "they Broke The Law, and that can't be tolerated."

The illegal immigrants risked their lives to get a better life for their families.

The politicians responsible for this have inflicted terror and pain on people who may be innocent, because they were scared.

That's the latest excuse. After 9/11, we were scared. That's why we did this. We feared another attack any moment and we had to make sure we were safe.

In other words--we were scared and over reacted.

Now doesn't that excuse make the US proud.

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The Rabbit
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I see your point now Darth. I just think it didn't work that well since most people would be willing to excuse breaking drug laws in an emergency situation.

In fact most people excuse G.W. Bush's drug use as a youthful indiscretion which we should overlook now that he has matured.

[ April 23, 2009, 08:05 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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Rakeesh
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Lalo, you're acting like that phrase somehow didn't make sense. Rabbit, for example, appears to have had no difficulty understanding it at all though, with only a little bit of context.

So I don't know where that comes from.

As for arguments, I wasn't arguing with you. I was just saying that I doubted your claim that you wouldn't get any vengeful satisfaction out of it. That's not semantic nitpicking.

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Lalo
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I'm happy that criminals might be brought to justice, and transparency and accountability might be brought to the too-powerful federal government.

Your assessment is that I'm taking vengeful satisfaction.

You're so weird.

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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
The Nuremberg trials were an incredibly important for the transformation of Germany. Without them, I doubt Germany would have been able to so fully reject fascism or build the ethical society they have built.
That's an interesting take on a process not begun or implemented by Germans. The imminent threat of the Soviets certainly tempered their rejection of fascism, to say the least.

Rabbit, I agree that if these things are true* - and as time passes, and further documents come to light, that seems more and more likely - there needs to be some serious redress in the form of trials. Not that there ever will be, but there should. But I have to admit I view with skepticism your claim that 'it's not about revenge'.

Are you saying you wouldn't get any vengeful satisfaction out of that sort of thing?

*One thing I wonder about. I am surprised if our people weren't able to get the pretexts they needed if they were actually going about such unfettered methods as this.

Considering Nazi'ism was very much the ideological opposition to Bolshevikism I highly doubt that the Soviets presented any impetus to develop a ethical democratic society. Its all to easy to revert to facsism if the leaders can claim it can fight militant bolshevikism.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
I'm happy that criminals might be brought to justice, and transparency and accountability might be brought to the too-powerful federal government.

Your assessment is that I'm taking vengeful satisfaction.

You're so weird.

And you're so inattentive.

My assessment wasn't that you are taking vengeful satisfaction, it's that if Bush (or at least high ranking members of the Bush Administration) were to be brought up on charges, you would take some vengeful satisfaction. I said nothing about whether or not you wouldn't feel other things as well.

But, just for fun, are you saying that the people who we're talking about are conservative Republicans wouldn't add even a bit of icing to the cake for you? A cake stuffed full of wholesome justice and integrity, to be sure, but what about that tastes-so-great frosting?

---

Blayne, I'm not sure what you're talking about, or how it relates to what I quoted.

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malanthrop
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I have a hard time understanding how anyone could possibly compare our intelligence agencies to the Nazi's. Please, there were no gas chambers, we weren't pulling their teeth out or making lamps out of their skin.

The so called "torture" our special forces submit themselves to in training.

None of them died and likely didn't even bleed. Sure they may have been humiliated and made uncomfortable, a far cry from what these animals do to the infidel. I hear much more outrage over waterboarding than one of them beheading an American contractore on tv.

Bin Laden was right, most Americans are pathetic and week.

The taliban is in Pakistan beating women in the streets for Sharia offenses and barbers are being beaten and having their stores torched for the sin of shaving a man's face.

If we really want them tortured, we send them to one of our allies and let them do it for us. If I'm ever sent back, I'll definitely be less inclined to take a prisoner. Our troops should do the humane thing and just put them down like the dogs they are.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
None of them died and likely didn't even bleed.
I have a question for you. Let's say that we invent a device capable of firing every single nerve at once, creating awesome, indescribable, total pain in a way that no amount of real-world damage could ever cause. And we can do this at will, and subject our prisoners to sustained periods of this experience.

Is that better or worse than making a lamp out of their skin?

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kmbboots
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We convicted Japanese soldiers of war crimes and sentenced them to 15 years hard labour for waterboarding American soldiers during WWII.
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Omega M.
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What would you say to someone who responded to that with, "You're right---maybe we should apologize to Japan and compensate those prisoners."?
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