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Author Topic: Confirmed: Bin Laden Dead
Darth_Mauve
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They had an article on the radio about an old/new technique of placing a mesh of wires directly into the brain. It's been used as a research tool to determine what parts of the brain control what functions.

Between better computers and monitors receiving the data, this procedure has returned and has gotten very, very specific reports. They are able to tell the difference between a couple of words a person is speaking. It comes closer and closer to mind reading.

The question is, assuming that the science progresses to the point where they can basically read the mind of a person, once connected to this system, but that connection requires cutting a section of the skull, removing it, and placing wires directly on and in the brain, would this be torture? Should it be used on enemy combatants? What compensation do we give people who forcibly undergo this procedure only to be proven innocent?

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
I don't think anyone is saying that. I think there's a fair consensus about what torture means (roughly, to intentionally cause pain/discomfort/humiliation while in a position of absolute authority/control of another individual). The only real equivocation is, again, on the part of those who think some such behavior is justified but do not want the behavior that they advocate to carry the connotations of torture.

I am saying that, given any usual definition of torture. I believe that even enemies should be treated with the most care and dignity that we can manage while not allowing them to cause further harm.
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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
...to intentionally cause pain/discomfort/humiliation while in a position of absolute authority/control of another individual...
I'm really not too sure if "humiliation" should be a part of the definition of torture.
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MattP
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quote:
...given any usual definition of torture.
That caveat wasn't part of SenojRetep's assertion.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
quote:
...to intentionally cause pain/discomfort/humiliation while in a position of absolute authority/control of another individual...
I'm really not too sure if "humiliation" should be a part of the definition of torture.
Why not?
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
...given any usual definition of torture.
That caveat wasn't part of SenojRetep's assertion.
Well, no, but if we are going to assume that we have no idea of what torture means, I am not sure we can talk about it at all.
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Stone_Wolf_
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kmbboots...beaten with a whip, broken fingers, flensed alive, fingernails pulled off with pliers, electroshock, water boarding, called a dirty name...

It just doesn't seem to be strong enough to be in the same category.

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Stone_Wolf_
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It probably won't help, but here is what dictionary.com has to say...

quote:
torture
   [tawr-cher] noun, verb, -tured, -tur·ing.

1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.

2. a method of inflicting such pain.

3. Often, tortures. the pain or suffering caused or undergone.


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kmbboots
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What about forcing you to do something like say, undress in front of members of the opposite sex? What about if they touched you? What if it were expressly forbidden in your religion? How about forcing you to say vile things about your religion? Your wife? Your children? Denying you access to facilities until you defaecate on yourself. Showing video of that to your wife? Your children?

Use some imagination, Stone Wolf. [Wink]

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Stone_Wolf_
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How would they force me to do these things? If they starved me to get me to do it, it would be torture, if they beat me, it would be torture.

If they denied me the use of basic facilities risking dysentery, that would be torture.

Let's say they drugged me, and dressed me up as a clown with missing crotch section pants and then tied ropes to my limbs and made me dance to disco music while women and children threw horse feces at me...is that imaginative enough?

The drugging, and tying up would be torture, but the crotchless clown suit? I don't know if that would qualify.

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Rakeesh
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The problem isn't a prisoner saying those things, of course. It's the means by which they're pushed to say them. Are they convinced to say `em because they're just tired of sitting in an uncomfortable chair after five hours in front of a warm light with only lukewarm tapwater to drink?

Or are they convinced to say them because they're completely exhausted after sitting nude and bound on a bare, splintery wooden chair getting almost a sunburn from a light after serious sleep exhaustion has set in and they may or may not have been allowed to, y'know, eat and drink as much as might otherwise be healthy? This being the, maybe, fifteenth or sixteenth time it's happened with ongoing hints that if they don't cooperate they're going to go on never being heard from again for years.

It doesn't have to be thumbscrews to be torture. But, to avoid the semantic debate, it doesn't have to be thumbscrews to contain exactly the same kinds of problems that we're supposed reject torture for on pragmatic grounds. That is to say, if we're not supposed to torture someone because the answers we'll get will be unreliable (either because the prisoner will resist the torture, or will cooperate and tell the interrogator what he believes is wanted), well, that same batch of problems entails with the 'everything but' approach, I'd think.

quote:
The drugging, and tying up would be torture, but the crotchless clown suit? I don't know if that would qualify.
But...why wouldn't it be? If someone has been raised, especially from infancy, to view exposure of that sort before strangers much less enemies as especially shameful and horrifying...why wouldn't that qualify as a form of torture? What would you call it if you used force to compel a stranger to dress in such a way and then stroll down the street?
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kmbboots
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Stone Wolf, say you were threatened with the harm of loved ones? Or even threatened with physical harm? The threat doesn't physically injure you. What if a woman was forced to be naked in front of leering strangers? And denying bathroom facilities for long enough to make one soil oneself is not much of a dysentery risk.

The point is that in your original examples, you use the most brutal forms of physical torture (flaying alive) with a very mild form of psychological torture (name calling).

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Stone_Wolf_
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I see your point kmb...I just don't think that most forms of physiological torture are comparable to physical torture, and I wish there was better terminology to help to delineate the two.

quote:
But...why wouldn't it be?
If you read my landmark you know I was tormented as a child/teen with teasing, and having gone through all that, I simply do not think that it is the same thing as being physically tortured.

When it comes to governments using coercion on prisoners, I absolutely find physical torture to abhorrent, but do not feel the same way about emotional abuse.

Maybe that's just me.

ETA: I'm not saying I'm for emotional torture, just that it's a different ball of wax and would depend on individual goal/techniques used, where as all physical torture is in my book off limits.

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MattP
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quote:
When it comes to governments using coercion on prisoners, I absolutely find physical torture to abhorrent, but do not feel the same way about emotional abuse.
Aside from the effect of the abuse itself, emotional abuse tends to be dehumanizing and makes it easier to later commit acts of physical abuse.

Personally, I would *prefer* physical abuse to effective psychological abuse. At least at the end of the process, my mind - what I most think of as "me" - would still be intact. (Though, of course, substantial physical abuse can also have psychological effects.)

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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
What if a woman was forced to be naked in front of leering strangers?
Why would it be worse for a woman?
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MattP
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quote:
Why would it be worse for a woman?
Because women are, on average, more sexually vulnerable. Forced removal of clothing is often a prelude to rape. Also, in most cultures, the modesty and "virtue" of women is, for better or worse, higher valued than that of men. A forced compromising of modesty has a greater potential for psychological trauma with a woman than with a man. (again, on average)

Not that it would be sunshine and daisies for men. No one should be forced to discard their personal modesty as a method of intimidation.

[ May 18, 2011, 05:42 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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Parkour
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
The drugging, and tying up would be torture, but the crotchless clown suit? I don't know if that would qualify.

Ah, torture debates.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Why would it be worse for a woman?
Probably because women everywhere on the planet are much, much likelier to be the victims of sexual assault than men are, and women (and men) everywhere on the planet are aware of it on a subconscious level. There are some pretty substantial threats tied into forcing someone to be nude in front of strangers even if nothing ever happens to them besides the forced exposure itself-and again, that goes double for enemies.

And as for men, well, sometimes things happen to prisoners because there's just an awful lot of closed doors between them and the bright light of day. Generally when it comes to preventing people from doing something, the trick isn't to simply say "You can do everything except this," and just assume that will be that-it's also to curtail behaviors that might lead directly to the things you want to avoid.

Such as forcibly exposing prisoners as a method of interrogation. Because hey, now we're (in our hypothetical role as interrogators) talking about it, about what we can get away with it, and the minimum bar we can get away with in this situation and still be completely within the rules is strippin' `em down and humiliating them. That's just us, the law-abiding legitimate interrogators doing our jobs, punching our time cards, and going home at the end of the day.

What happens in the (inevitable) case when someone goes off the reservation, and the bar is at 'sexual humiliation via forced body exposure' instead of 'we're not going to sexually humiliate our prisoners at all', or even 'we're not going to humiliate our prisoners at all'?

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Stone_Wolf_
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I am surprised and against the idea that being a prisoner being humiliated by nudity would be worse off for a woman.

But it illuminates my point that there is a difference between physical torture and physiological "torture".

What if a claustrophobic person was convicted of a crime, wouldn't locking them in jail be "torture"?

If you made the only food available to a Muslim or a Jew slow smoked babyback pork ribs in Sweet Baby Ray's tangy-sweet, smokey, delicious BabBQ sauce, it might be considered torture, but to the rest of us, it would be a good ol' time.

There are people who take off their cloths in front of leering strangers for fun, for profit and/or for a hobby.

But put someone's thumb on concrete and smash it into pulp with a ball-peen hammer and everyone will count it as torture.

While I think there is a difference between physical and mental torture, in the end I'm with kmbboots, just treat them as we would like to be treated, using the minimum force and intrusiveness necessary to keep them from harming others.

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Blayne Bradley
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Those people (claustrophobic) usually do get some kind of special treatment afaik.
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Rakeesh
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I didn't mean to say it's always worse in all cases for women-I was addressing your question, "Why might it be worse for women?"

It might be worse for women because women are overwhelmingly disproportionate victims of sexual violence, and forcibly exposing someone's body is often a precursor to sexual violence. It's pretty straightforward. There's nothing in it that says men have nothing to fear from being so exposed, I'm just expliaining why a woman might experience it more badly than a man-who would *also experience* it as very bad.

As for your point that there's a difference between physical and psychological torture, that's a point that no one challenged except the scare quotes. Speaking for myself, I'm not saying it's *as bad* to be forcibly exposed as to have one's bones broken; but that doesn't mean they're not both torture of a kind.

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Orincoro
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I think it's interesting that this whole debate seems to float around without ever landing on a clear answer as to what can define torture. Personally I think this is because torture has everything to do with intent, understood by both sides. For instance, you can have your fingers smashed in a building accident and be okay with that- you still feel like you. But have somebody smash them with a balteen hammer, and I think it's safe to say you'll feel differently about what happened to you.

Same with teasing. If you feel fat, and feel that other people notice, that's something you can deal with, probably. IF somebody goes out of their way to let you know that *they know* and that everyone knows, and that this makes you *not okay,* then you're dealing with a bit more than a feeling you have. You're dealing with the will of another human being to destroy or diminish your image. Whenever we deviate from standards of common decency and respect for life in the way we deal with people, we are engaged in something much more profound than the merely physical consequences of that act itself. So, I'd say we'll not ever come up with a definition of torture because, for lack of a better expression, we ought know it when we see it.

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Stone_Wolf_
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When it comes to "torture" for governments with foreign "detainees" or citizen prisoners it should be very simple indeed, if you are withholding food, water, sanitation, decent housing and are causing harm mentally or physically intentionally, you are torturing those people.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
When it comes to "torture" for governments with foreign "detainees" or citizen prisoners it should be very simple indeed, if you are withholding food, water, sanitation, decent housing and are causing harm mentally or physically intentionally, you are torturing those people.
I don't understand-so in order for it to be torture and be called torture and not "torture" or 'psychological "torture"', it has to inflict intentional mental harm by the means of denial of food, water, etc. or some sort of direct physical attack? Any other method of inflicting intentional mental harm isn't going to be actual torture, but some form of 'it's something we shouldn't do, but it's not actually torture' kind of thing?

Serious question: doesn't that just serve as a challenge to the human ingenuity of those we have interrogating-not every single one of them, but the institutions in general-to do what can be gotten away with, to inflict the maximum possible mental harm (which can be pretty darn awful indeed) without leaving a physiological mark?

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Stone_Wolf_
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I think you are misunderstanding me...

quote:
...are causing harm mentally or physically intentionally...
I mean if you are hurting people either their bodies or their minds on purposes, then it IS torture.
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Rakeesh
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Alright-I was confused, then, because that seems pretty sharply at odds with what you were sayin before.

quote:

But it illuminates my point that there is a difference between physical torture and physiological "torture".

What if a claustrophobic person was convicted of a crime, wouldn't locking them in jail be "torture"?

I'm really not too sure if "humiliation" should be a part of the definition of torture.

And so on and so forth. The definition from dictionary.com, which you used in support of your point, largely pointed away from psychological pain as something that could be included in torture.

[ May 19, 2011, 01:19 AM: Message edited by: Rakeesh ]

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Well, until people start torturing Americans. Then it's absolutely under zero circumstances acceptable ever, period. Natch.

Cynical part of me wonders if we've already reached the point where even American Muslim and/or brown terrorism suspects could be tortured without much public outcry.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Well, until people start torturing Americans. Then it's absolutely under zero circumstances acceptable ever, period. Natch.

Cynical part of me wonders if we've already reached the point where even American Muslim and/or brown terrorism suspects could be tortured without much public outcry.
Pssst. Maybe he means real Americans.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Rakeesh, there is a world of difference between me wishing for another, more specific word and coming up with a usable definition of torture when it comes to governments, so the discussion can progress.

One is an intellectual discussion of theory and semantics, the other is a practical discussion about how people are treated.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Cynical part of me wonders if we've already reached the point where even American Muslim and/or brown terrorism suspects could be tortured without much public outcry.
Well, we're already well past that point and have been for, y'know, many generations depending on which group we're talking about and if we're going to be talking about torture for civilian crime and investigation, not terrorism.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Rakeesh, there is a world of difference between me wishing for another, more specific word and coming up with a usable definition of torture when it comes to governments, so the discussion can progress.
I don't understand the distinctions you're drawing then-so you're saying the deliberate infliction of physical and mental harm should be out-of-bounds for captors to do to their prisoners, or just torture torture, that is to say physical torture?
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Stone_Wolf_
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I think the word torture should mean physical causing of pain etc, and that the idea behind mental torture should have it's own word, and that neither should be used on prisoners ever.
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Rakeesh
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If neither should be used on prisoners ever, and if mental infliction of pain is to be considered reprehensible, why do we need another word for it?
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kmbboots
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We have different words for lots of things that are all reprehensible things that we shouldn't do to other people. Why not this if we need to distinguish them? Even now we talk about mental torture and physical torture. I think that is sufficient, but I can see where someone else might not as a legal definition as long as whatever we call that is considered in the same category as torture.
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Rakeesh
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I think that when we start getting into that area - "it's going to mean the same thing, but we're just going to call it something different" - is where things get different. I mean, there's a disconnect there. If it means the same thing, if it carries the same weight, why isn't it called the same thing? And is it really very onerous to say "mental torture" and "physical torture"? It's an extra two or three syllables.
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kmbboots
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As I said, I don't think so but I can see the argument when it gets to legal definitions.
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Mucus
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Presumably Mr. Spock would just dump you in an agony booth and inflict pain without needing physical torture in order to trigger the mental feeling of pain (i.e. mental torture), so the distinction seems kinda moot long term anyways [Wink]
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Stone_Wolf_
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Darn that Mr. Spock, always ruining my good time fun!

quote:
If neither should be used on prisoners ever, and if mental infliction of pain is to be considered reprehensible, why do we need another word for it?
I believe in specificity. If person A slaps person B, it is different then if person A punches person B, and still different if person A pushes person B and still different if person A shoves person B.

All of these things are person A illegally touching person B, and yet, they are four very different things.

What is the upside of having as few words as possible?

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Presumably Mr. Spock would just dump you in an agony booth

'Scuse me? Are you getting Vulcans and Klingons mixed up again?
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Mucus
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?
Klingons don't have agony booths.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
I believe in specificity. If person A slaps person B, it is different then if person A punches person B, and still different if person A pushes person B and still different if person A shoves person B.
Well, sure-but they all actually fall under the category 'illegal touching', known by a variety of names. Within that umbrella, there are lots of categories.
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Stone_Wolf_
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I think you missed my point.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Klingons don't have agony booths.

Mind sifter, agony booth -- same difference.

Anyway, you failed to specify "Mirror-Universe". [Wink]

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Mucus
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[Smile]
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SenojRetep
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Two relatively recent developments in the OBL aftermath:

Obama's approval levels are back to pre-OBL operation levels. Coincidentally (or not) a month is almost exactly the length of Bush's poll bounce when Saddam was captured.

Pakistani military rounds up 30-40 suspected CIA informants who cooperated with the US in the OBL operation. Like a good neighbor, Pakistan is there.

<edit>Also, this.</edit>

[ June 15, 2011, 01:10 PM: Message edited by: SenojRetep ]

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
I believe in specificity. If person A slaps person B, it is different then if person A punches person B, and still different if person A pushes person B and still different if person A shoves person B.
Well, sure-but they all actually fall under the category 'illegal touching', known by a variety of names. Within that umbrella, there are lots of categories.
Person A: "I believe in specificity. The terms you used were too general."

Person B: "Yeah, but generally they are all the same."

Person A: hauls off and decks person B.

Cops: "What happened?"

Person A: "I just gave him a light push."

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Stone_Wolf_
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[ROFL]
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Rakeesh
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At this far remove, I'm not even sure who you're trying to zing.
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Stone_Wolf_
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[Laugh]
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SenojRetep
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The most detailed account of the raid on bin Laden's compound to date. I think the investigative work is impressive and the narrative flow of the article is quite good.

A few points that I believe were discussed earlier in the thread that are clarified in the article: the fatally shot unarmed woman was standing next to her husband, who was holding (but not necessarily firing) an AK-47; two of bin Laden's wives were standing between him and the SEALs and one was purposefully shot in the leg when she moved in a threatening way; bin Laden was unarmed throughout and there was never a consideration for possibility of capture (the White House disputes this); it was a CIA rather than military operation (although all the personnel in the strike team were military); it was, at the time, the most recent of a dozen or so cross-border raids conducted without the knowledge of Pakistan, only one of which had been reported in the press (no word on whether more raids have occurred since that time).

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