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Author Topic: Confirmed: Bin Laden Dead
Mucus
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I kinda wish that they plastinated the guy and added him to one of those Body Worlds exhibits.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Weekend at Osama's

Is it wrong that I found this funny?

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Nighthawk
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Biden looks so natural in that pose.
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Rakeesh
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quote:

Its very rude, if you have two people talking, one of them says "okay answer em this although I don't want a long indepth discussion because we have places to be" and the other guy answers in the simplest quickest way possible in order to answer and respect his request; its extremely unfair to walk in and jump on that answer when its clear its elaborated answer would take "days" to go over. It's dishonest.

I didn't give a reason why I didn't want an in-depth conversation about that topic with you. If you're interested, it's because you can't have a reasonable discussion about China in which one party is critical of Chinese policy, and you're the other party.

Case in point: here we have you first calling me dishonest because I said I didn't want to talk about that with you, and then someone else talked about it, and you complained to me about it-as though I had any control over what someone else said.

And then you go further and call that other person dishonest for not obeying my request, made to you. It's not dishonest. I'm the one who said I didn't want to talk about it with you (I didn't say why, but again, the reason why is because you get pretty hysterical about China). BlackBlade didn't say he didn't want to talk about it with you. In fact, he asked a direct, relevant question about your point. In response, you suggest he's dishonest.

Case: rested.

----------

quote:
Take a deep breath dude...it's okay.

Saying "I'm not convinced" is a world away from "Your lying".

[Smile] I know it's OK. You appear to be misinterpreting irritation with genuine distress. I'm pretty confident, though, that I correctly interpreted your deliberate dredging up of an old disagreement out of nowhere, ellipses and all.

quote:
I personally do not agree that they are directly or indirectly accusing anyone of lying, so my understanding of the contradiction is not applicable.
...we're saying, "He's dead. We're offering thus and so evidence to sustain that statement." They're saying, "We don't believe that evidence is sufficient." How is that not an indirect accusation of lying, or the possibility of us lying? (I'm fine with them accusing us of lying, btw-we hardly have an untarnished record.)

quote:

There are people who will use looser terminology to prove a point without having to claim it, but golly, monster or no, I think it's damn fair for ObL's blood family to see proof of his death, even if the government feels it is not a good idea to release said proof publicly.

Why is it fair? Serious question. I'm not saying I disagree, I'm just asking, why do they have a right to see proof of his death?

quote:
Are you working off of the assumption that Obama really wanted to hide that he killed Osama and that he deserves credit for coming clean as having done it or something?
At this point I've kinda lost track of the conversation. Could you restate your question?
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Stone_Wolf_
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I'm tired of butting heads with you man, if you feel your outburst was appropriate, fine. If you feel my courteous request sounded rude, fine. I refuse to make our interaction the issue at hand.

quote:
"We don't believe that evidence is sufficient." How is that not an indirect accusation of lying...
I simply do not know how to say that the two statements "We are not convinced." and "You are lying." do not equate any other way. The first statement is about the speaker's beliefs, the second about the honesty of the report. You can claim the sky is plaid, but refuse to show me any pictures or video, and I can say "Your word on the matter is not enough to convince me." and I can still believe that you believe it and are speaking honestly, without believing it myself.

What part of this statement means "You are lying."?

quote:
...(we) have noted wide coverage of the news of the death of our father, but we are not convinced on the available evidence in the absence of dead body, photographs, and video evidence that our natural father is dead. Therefore, with this press statement, we seek such conclusive evidence to believe the stories published in relation to 2 May 2011 operation Geronimo as declared by the President of United States Barrack Hussein Obama in his speech that he authorized the said operation and killing of OBL and later confirmed his death.
quote:
Why is it fair? Serious question. I'm not saying I disagree, I'm just asking, why do they have a right to see proof of his death?
Family members should have a right to view definitive proof of death when it is available, and it is available according to Obama. If your father was killed and there was proof which was not being released, wouldn't you want to see it?
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scholarette
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I thought returning body to family of executed killer was standard. I can see the reasons in this case, but considering we didn't provide the body, a private viewing of pics and evidence seems appropriate.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
I don't know which is worse: that the white house has concluded that the general populace is pretty much just too dumb to deserve or benefit from the pictures being released, or the fact that they're right.

Too true.
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Stone_Wolf_
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I know for a fact that I'm a fool to engage, but I feel wrongfully accused and wish to set the record straight.

quote:
...I'm pretty confident, though, that I correctly interpreted your deliberate dredging up of an old disagreement out of nowhere...
...I think you may have misunderstood me. The post I was referring to was recent, in this thread... this post.

quote:
Oh, I didn't realize we were bringing up a bunch of old stuff here, Stone Wolf. My mistake. Shall I go mine your posts for some gems-perhaps the series where you in effect decided I was being mean and that meant you didn't have to answer direct challenges to your point of view?

Or would you instead respond that we have sharply different recollections of past conversations, and leave it at that instead of dredging them up so directly to serve as ammunition? (You don't get credit for past 'restraint' if you use it later as an example of moral superiority, you know.) And in the realm of 'I coulds', I could say, "Go ahead, show me which question of yours I never answered after you gave me time."

But - since you've decided to be snippy about this - I'll just come right out and say it, I'm not interested in a dredge-the-past game with someone who apparently credits an Onion story, initially, as a serious news source.

(Look at how right I was, by the way, that your 'nice' request was bossy. Hint: I even said, outright, that I didn't believe you meant it in a bossy or presumptuous fashion and you respond with a little persecution head-fake.)

I have tried to let this post go, but please review and and consider which of us was "deliberate dredging up of an old disagreement out of nowhere" while hypocritically claiming not to.

That shot at me about the Onion can only be called an insult.

This is also the third time you have used the phrase "sounds like" to slam me while admitting that I clearly did not mean that in actual truth. I call foul sir! This seems like a cowardly tactic, and I would strongly prefer if you cease using in it in regards to me, please.

I know by calling you out I have likely given up all high ground, but I think it's pretty darn clear who was name calling, who was out of control and off topic and who wasn't, and while I know it is not wise of me to say it, I can't seem to help myself. I guess I'm not mature enough to just sit quietly on high ground.

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Blayne Bradley
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quote:

I didn't give a reason why I didn't want an in-depth conversation about that topic with you. If you're interested, it's because you can't have a reasonable discussion about China in which one party is critical of Chinese policy, and you're the other party.

This is false, You are an ass or completely lacking in observation skills if you believe this to be the case, I've had conversations before that were perfectly reasonable and others have also pointed out that my positions were hardly unreasonable. I gave elaborated arguments, I cited sources and generally back up all my arguments with facts and statistics in "recent" discussions going back about 1-2 years.

I have not in the recent conversations gotten "hysterical", that is blatant character assassination. My assumption is that avoiding a substantiated discussion here is to avoid a derail.

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Rakeesh
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Alright, so I looked at that post of yours-the one you references giving me time to answer a question you asked that I never answered? There's no question there. It didn't occur to me that you were referring to that, on account of it not matching your complaint.

As for 'sounds like', I'm not going to stop using it to describe, well, what things sound like to me. Initially I said that I didn't believe you *intended* it to be bossy, but I explained why it sounded that way. I think by now you should realize if I'm going to call you bossy, I'll just do so. There's no sense in hiding behind rhetoric of cowardice and bravery, as though you are somehow bravely standing up to me-this is an Internet discussion forum. Bravery rarely enters into it.

Again, you felt the need to ask however politely for me to answer your question after a *very* brief time had passed. You put yourself in the role of polite supervisor. Your justification for this was a reference to a post in which I didn't answer a question in which you'd 'given' me time to answer, even though there wasn't a question there.

Put simply, if you want an answer to a question, don't ask as though you were a supervisor; and don't act as though there were no sense of grievance on your part-and then when challenged promptly display your sense or grievance.

The Onion thing was a shot, and I shouldn't have made it. I am sorry for it.

-------

Blayne,

You're absolutely right-you are capable of calm, reasonable discussion on China. But around here, that's not what you're known for on the subject-and not just among the people whose opinions you get to dismiss immediately because they enjoy persecuting you, therefore you don't have to listen to them if you don't like what they're saying.

Case in point: in this conversation, almost your immediate response was to start calling people liars. TOTALLY REASONABLE.

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Parkour
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I would be surprised if more than one in ten of those china discussions haven't gone hysterical and angry over the course of that '1-2 years'.

I have not been here that long but the time I have been here seems to back up rakeesh's statement.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Thank you for the apology.

For the record, I never said that I asked you a question, but I can see how you would get that impression, as I used the phrase "gave you time to answer,".

I'm not trying to nit pick you here, but how can I ask you to address a point I feel has been overlooked without sounding supervisory to you?

Is there any way I can get you to not tell me what I sound like please? I find it frustrating to the max and would truly appreciate it if you did this kindness for me please.

Also for the record, it wasn't a sense of grievance, but justification. When I asked you to answer it, I was had no negative emotion. When you suggested how I sounded when you replayed, that was when the negative emotion kicked in, and even then I wasn't doing anything but trying to explain why I felt it was appropriate to ask for an answer in the first place.

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Nighthawk
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According to German TV, Star Trek's Maquis killed bin Laden

quote:
When channel N24 in Germany reported that Osama bin Laden was taken down by Navy SEAL Team 6, they searched for an image to place behind host Mick Locher. Instead of finding the real emblem for SEAL Team 6, researchers located the emblem of the Star Trek freedom fighters, The Maquis.

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katharina
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quote:
Originally posted by Nighthawk:
According to German TV, Star Trek's Maquis killed bin Laden

quote:
When channel N24 in Germany reported that Osama bin Laden was taken down by Navy SEAL Team 6, they searched for an image to place behind host Mick Locher. Instead of finding the real emblem for SEAL Team 6, researchers located the emblem of the Star Trek freedom fighters, The Maquis.

That is AWESOME.
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Bella Bee
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Time travelling rebels from the future come back to kill one of the greatest villains of the twenty-first century...

You know, I've seen worse movie pitches.

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Samprimary
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Re: the aspiring "bin laden's death proves Bush's torture progam worked, suck on that, liberals" angle.

quote:
“With so much misinformation being fed into such an essential public debate as this one, I asked the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta, for the facts. And I received the following information:

“The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. We did not first learn from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed the real name of bin Laden’s courier, or his alias, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the man who ultimately enabled us to find bin Laden. The first mention of the name Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, as well as a description of him as an important member of Al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country. The United States did not conduct this detainee’s interrogation, nor did we render him to that country for the purpose of interrogation. We did not learn Abu Ahmed’s real name or alias as a result of waterboarding or any ‘enhanced interrogation technique’ used on a detainee in U.S. custody. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts, or an accurate description of his role in Al-Qaeda.

“In fact, not only did the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed; it actually produced false and misleading information. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married, and ceased his role as an Al-Qaeda facilitator — which was not true, as we now know. All we learned about Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti through the use of waterboarding and other ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ against Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the confirmation of the already known fact that the courier existed and used an alias.

“I have sought further information from the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and they confirm for me that, in fact, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee — information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti’s real role in Al-Qaeda and his true relationship to Osama bin Laden — was obtained through standard, non-coercive means, not through any ‘enhanced interrogation technique.’

“In short, it was not torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees that got us the major leads that ultimately enabled our intelligence community to find Osama bin Laden. I hope former Attorney General Mukasey will correct his misstatement. It’s important that he do so because we are again engaged in this important debate, with much at stake for America’s security and reputation. Each side should make its own case, but do so without making up its own facts.

This was obviously written by a weenie, immediately dismissable, draft-dodging anti-war liberal who was in no way actually John McCain, so we can disregard it as just being more liberal winnowing. Oh, I guess it was actually John McCain. Hmm.
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SenojRetep
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That's one spin. The other, from Marc Thiessen, Porter Goss and Michael Mukasey (who are obviously interested parties, but also people who should know the real story) is that, while the courier's existence and nomme de guerre were derived from an earlier source, it wasn't until KSM broke, post-waterboarding, that significant creedance was given to the earlier report. Despite KSM's attempted disinformation, it was his confirmation of the existence of the courier and identification of his nickname that precipitated further investigation.

More from Dave Weigel here.

quote:
The dispute comes down to a few points neither side agrees on. Panetta, and McCain, point to a memo containing information that wasn’t obtained from enhanced interrogation techniques, and say that’s where Abu Ahmed’s name came from.

“Was there a memo in the file beforehand containing that name beforehand?” asked Mukasey. “Yes, but it was disregarded, because it came from somebody who was not regarded as important – who wasn’t important.” Investigators only circled back to the memo after interrogating KSM and others. “After it was married up with later facts that were later learned, it became obvious that he was covering for him, and that was a very significant fact. It was part of a mosaic of facts. There were many stones, and that was one of them."

If you read both Panetta and McCain's quotes carefully, they don't contradict this narrative. Which spin is more accurate, I don't know; I imagine the truth is somewhere between.

But I don't understand what the problem with acknowledging that valuable intelligence was derived from the waterboarding is. It doesn't change the fundamental calculus that waterboarding is wrong and shouldn't be done, unless the only reason given for it being wrong is that it's ineffective. That doesn't seem like the primary (or even secondary or tertiary) reason for not waterboarding to me.

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ScottF
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
But I don't understand what the problem with acknowledging that valuable intelligence was derived from the waterboarding is. It doesn't change the fundamental calculus that waterboarding is wrong and shouldn't be done, unless the only reason given for it being wrong is that it's ineffective. That doesn't seem like the primary (or even secondary or tertiary) reason for not waterboarding to me.

I think this is a really important observation. It seems to me you're either fundamentally opposed to torture, regardless of outcomes and benefits, or you're not.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
I think this is a really important observation. It seems to me you're either fundamentally opposed to torture, regardless of outcomes and benefits, or you're not.
Well, it depends on who's being rebutted. According to former VP Cheney, for example:

"Cheney has been a harsh critic of Obama's anti-terrorism policies, especially his decision to end the CIA enhanced interrogation program started by President Bush. Even as he praised Obama, Cheney suggested that program, and its aggressive interrogation of terror of detainees like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, contributed to the ultimate success of the operation against bin Laden."

It's not clear if that's, y'know, true or just something he's saying because most people are going to really examine that kind of statement about as closely as they will claims that there was a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. It may very well be true. But when you've got a guy, the front man* even, saying that our torture techniques helped bagged him and it turns out that might be the exact opposite of true-not only that torture got no answers but got wrong answers, and non-torturous techniques got good answers-well, it's important to say so.

I'm a bit biased, to be honest, though because I just can't freaking stand Dick Cheney. He screams sleaze to me.

*Politics being what it is, too, if the front man is saying 'our methods did it', well even if you completely set aside the question of equivalency or not between conservatives/liberals, Democrats/Republicans in current politics, you just know that further down the chain there will be people saying things that are shades of, "Ha, torture works, suck it!" or at least closer.

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Samprimary
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Most people could have never heard cheney talk or seen his face and he'd still inspire a visceral reaction just from his views.

When I read his articles, I don't even really get the predominant 'this man is evil' vibe. He just sounds like a dumbass, who holds as much conceit for nuanced, realistic views now as he did when he was triumphantly announcing that the Iraqi insurgency was in its 'death throes' and that abu ghraib was really nothing important.

But he's the world's most dangerous type of dumbass, because his particular sociopolitical hallucination involves and reinforces the apparent necessity of turning the united states into a bunch of cowboy torturers who puke trillions of dollars into the dirt and merrily inspire casus belli from other religious fanatics, subsequently using reprisal as justification for what they were doing wrong in the first place.

Which is great if you want to have U.S. affairs play out analogous to the rotted, stinking, torturously amoral mess that is the middle east, but perhaps we could aspire to better things! And, as noted, reject torture not just on consequentialist grounds.

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
It may very well be true. But when you've got a guy, the front man* even, saying that our torture techniques helped bagged him and it turns out that might be the exact opposite of true-not only that torture got no answers but got wrong answers, and non-torturous techniques got good answers-well, it's important to say so.

Here's a relatively early (May 4) but fairly complete rundown of some of the "mosaic" of clues that led to identification of Sheik Abu Ahmed (the courier) and how they were obtained. In general the article is dismissive of the impact of harsh interrogation techniques, crediting them with hindering the investigative process because KSM and Slahi provided false information after interrogation.

However, other detainees who were not waterboarded but were subjected to other harsh interrogation techniques (Qahtani, Ghul) gave more accurate information. The article partially refutes itself when it references the impact of the differing narratives on identifying Abu Ahmed:
quote:
By late 2005, the sharp discrepancies with their accounts caught the attention of agency interrogators and caused them to redouble their efforts to figure out Abu Ahmed’s identity.

When they did, they began to match up the slivers of details about him from multiple detainees with the agency’s internal “profile” of a bin Laden courier and were struck by the match, the U.S. official said.

This matches what Goss and Mukasey were saying: once it became clear that he was lying, KSM's misinformation (and that of Slahi and al-Libi) itself became a clue that this individual was significant.

And Panetta isn't denying this; he's just saying (from what I can tell) that information obtained through torture techniques was not sufficient, that no single piece of information, regardless of how it was obtained, was central to nailing down Abu Ahmed's identity.

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Samprimary
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http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2011/05/17/santorum_mccain_enhanced_interrogation

Santorum vs. McCain

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by ScottF:
quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
But I don't understand what the problem with acknowledging that valuable intelligence was derived from the waterboarding is. It doesn't change the fundamental calculus that waterboarding is wrong and shouldn't be done, unless the only reason given for it being wrong is that it's ineffective. That doesn't seem like the primary (or even secondary or tertiary) reason for not waterboarding to me.

I think this is a really important observation. It seems to me you're either fundamentally opposed to torture, regardless of outcomes and benefits, or you're not.
I don't think that this is entirely true - or at least, not all the truth. My observation is that people's opinions on torture can fall anywhere on a spectrum from "absolutely not for any reason" to "sure, the scum deserve it". I think that there are a lot of people who hover in the "deplorable but maybe necessary"* camp. I think that the information that torture is rarely, if ever, even useful much less vital, is an important part of that discussion.

*Rather like the way many people feel about abortion.

On another note, I like Sen. McCain so much better when he is not running for president.

[ May 17, 2011, 05:22 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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Rakeesh
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The "I didn't mean this change the subject," dance from Santorum should be amusing at least.

What a freaking scumbag.

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BlackBlade
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I sincerely doubt Santorum was thinking about John McCain's history when he made that criticism. It sounds like it was just a reflex response more along the lines of, "He isn't working in any of the agencies that deal with intelligence gleaned from Al-Qaeda members."

I'm betting he is reading the responses to these remarks and thinking, "Whoops."

But then again, he's still stupid for not thinking more carefully before speaking.

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Samprimary
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To move beyond the Slate-influenced perspective of it, both the Santorum/McCain rift and the Gingrich/Ryan rift are receiving a lot of attention, and Gingrich may have put himself out of his own impossible novelty campaign early.
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ScottF
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I don't think that this is entirely true - or at least, not all the truth. My observation is that people's opinions on torture can fall anywhere on a spectrum from "absolutely not for any reason" to "sure, the scum deserve it". I think that there are a lot of people who hover in the "deplorable but maybe necessary"* camp. I think that the information that torture is rarely, if ever, even useful much less vital, is an important part of that discussion.

*Rather like the way many people feel about abortion.

On another note, I like Sen. McCain so much better when he is not running for president.

Fair enough, but you certainly don't hear much from the "deplorable but maybe necessary" camp. Perhaps they're the silent majority.
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Rakeesh
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Well, until people start torturing Americans. Then it's absolutely under zero circumstances acceptable ever, period. Natch.
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DarkKnight
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quote:
Well, until people start torturing Americans.
Did you mean that as it sounds or sarcastically?
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by ScottF:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I don't think that this is entirely true - or at least, not all the truth. My observation is that people's opinions on torture can fall anywhere on a spectrum from "absolutely not for any reason" to "sure, the scum deserve it". I think that there are a lot of people who hover in the "deplorable but maybe necessary"* camp. I think that the information that torture is rarely, if ever, even useful much less vital, is an important part of that discussion.

*Rather like the way many people feel about abortion.

On another note, I like Sen. McCain so much better when he is not running for president.

Fair enough, but you certainly don't hear much from the "deplorable but maybe necessary" camp. Perhaps they're the silent majority.
I guess I had assumed that most of the people who consider it necessary also consider it deplorable. How can a decent human being not consider torture deplorable even if they also believe it necessary?

But I admit that I may be giving some of them too much credit.

[ May 18, 2011, 10:55 AM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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Stone_Wolf_
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The problem with torture is that it doesn't work. Forget the moral issue completely (it's wrong, no question) and the truth of the matter is that eventually anyone will make up stuff they think you want to hear to make you stop hurting them.

"Do you worship the devil?" <Apply hot irons to genitals> "Do you worship the devil?" <Break fingers> "Admit you have lain with the devil!" <Flense off back skin>

"I worship the devil!"

"He admitted it! Burn the witch!"

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kmbboots
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The problem with torture is that it is torture. Additionally, it doesn't work.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Originally posted by DarkKnight:
Did you mean that as it sounds or sarcastically?

What I meant is that when someone somewhere starts torturing an American, say an American soldier being given a good old fashioned savage beating (because like Santorum says, the way it works is, you break 'em, they stay broken, and they're truthfully cooperative forever), we don't start up on this shades of gray business.

When we lecture other people for human rights violations, we don't way, "You're only sometimes allowed to torture certain people."

That's how I meant it.

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MattP
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quote:
The problem with torture is that it doesn't work.
The problem is worse than that - it's possible that torture *might* work, at least some of the time, and it's fairly difficult to prove incontrovertibly that it doesn't. It's not like we can run large-scale controlled double-blind experiments.

The human brain is a complex store of data and means for accessing it. It seems perfectly plausible that there are means of manipulating it such that the extraction of that data can be coerced, potentially through physically and psychologically tortuous processes.

Personally, I think the moral position against torture is sufficiently strong that it doesn't matter if torture is actually effective. The absolute claims about ineffectiveness are not necessarily well-supported and, if made as the primary objection, will weaken the case against torture the moment an anecdotal case of correct information being produced under torture occurs.

I think practical arguments about the negative results of torture, including losing our authority to protest the torture of our own citizens and how it influences the recruitment and propaganda efforts of our enemies are much more compelling.

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
Personally, I think the moral position against torture is sufficiently strong that it doesn't matter if torture is actually effective. The absolute claims about ineffectiveness are not necessarily well-supported and, if made as the primary objection, will weaken the case against torture the moment an anecdotal case of correct information being produced under torture occurs.

I think practical arguments about the negative results of torture, including losing our authority to protest the torture of our own citizens and how it influences the recruitment and propaganda efforts of our enemies are much more compelling.

I agree with your practical arguments. I also think that generally abiding by international norms and standards buys goodwill when we want to transgress them (like occasionally entering a sovereign country without permission to assassinate the leader of a terrorist organization).

I think I disagree, though, that the moral position against torture is sufficiently strong to absolutely ban its use. Mostly because I think "torture" (perhaps of necessity) is generally employed to mean "things done to prisoners that I personally don't like" rather than being a clearly delineated class of actions.

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MattP
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quote:
Mostly because I think "torture" (perhaps of necessity) is generally employed to mean "things done to prisoners that I personally don't like" rather than being a clearly delineated class of actions.
The Geneva Conventions represent international norms and standards on the subject and are sufficient for a common-sense analysis of virtually any particular technique of interrogation. It strains credulity, for instance, to claim that water boarding does not constitute "acts of violence or threats thereof". My impression is that it's primarily those who support increasing the level of violent and inhumane treatment of prisoners who have a fuzzy definition of torture, attempting to define away those techniques which they personally approve of.
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
Mostly because I think "torture" (perhaps of necessity) is generally employed to mean "things done to prisoners that I personally don't like" rather than being a clearly delineated class of actions.
The Geneva Conventions represents international norms and standards on the subject and are sufficient for a common-sense analysis of virtually any particular technique of interrogation. It strains credulity, for instance, to claim that water boarding does not constitute "acts of violence or threats thereof". My impression is that it's primarily those on the right who have a fuzzy definition of torture, attempting to define away those techniques which they personally approve of.
I could probably strain my credulity, but instead I'm more concerned that "acts of violence or threats thereof" is a spectrum of actions, some of which I (and, I think, most people) would consider torture and some of which I would not.

For instance, violent acts (to me) would include fairly innocuous activities like sitting someone down forcefully or shoving them in the back to get them to move, neither of which I'd consider torture. It would also include mutilation and beatings, things I would say pretty obviously are torture. I don't think that "torture" as a concept is sufficiently easy to define that we can make unambiguous moral claims about it.

In addition, I would say that because it is a somewhat ambiguous affair to attempt to define concepts like torture, or terrorism, or assassination, it is important to have strong and independent media, democratic institutions, and unbiased judiciary, because it is through these institutions that the messy work of deciding what is appropriate and what isn't gets worked out.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:

I think I disagree, though, that the moral position against torture is sufficiently strong to absolutely ban its use. Mostly because I think "torture" (perhaps of necessity) is generally employed to mean "things done to prisoners that I personally don't like" rather than being a clearly delineated class of actions.

Even were that the case, "don't do things to others that I wouldn't want done to me" seems like a fairly good application of the golden rule to me.
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:

I think I disagree, though, that the moral position against torture is sufficiently strong to absolutely ban its use. Mostly because I think "torture" (perhaps of necessity) is generally employed to mean "things done to prisoners that I personally don't like" rather than being a clearly delineated class of actions.

Even were that the case, "don't do things to others that I wouldn't want done to me" seems like a fairly good application of the golden rule to me.
I wouldn't want to be imprisoned, but I don't have a problem imprisoning others (depending on circumstances).
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Stone_Wolf_
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I sincerely doubt that "rough handling" would be counted as "torture" unless the speaker is not being 100% honest.

I am not actually familiar with the details laid out in the Geneva Conventions MattP...how specific is it?

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:

I think I disagree, though, that the moral position against torture is sufficiently strong to absolutely ban its use. Mostly because I think "torture" (perhaps of necessity) is generally employed to mean "things done to prisoners that I personally don't like" rather than being a clearly delineated class of actions.

Even were that the case, "don't do things to others that I wouldn't want done to me" seems like a fairly good application of the golden rule to me.
I wouldn't want to be imprisoned, but I don't have a problem imprisoning others (depending on circumstances).
I have a problem with it while recognizing that, living in an imperfect world, we must sometimes do bad things. Imprisoning people is (generally*) bad, but allowing them to do harm is worse. Some things are not ideal or what we want to do but that must still be done out of necessity. But we should strive for that ideal and do the minimum of harm possible.

*I believe that there are some people who are better off contained for their own safety as well as that of others.

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I have a problem with it while recognizing that, living in an imperfect world, we must sometimes do bad things. Imprisoning people is (generally*) bad, but allowing them to do harm is worse. Some things are not ideal or what we want to do but that must still be done out of necessity. But we should strive for that ideal and do the minimum of harm possible.

*I believe that there are some people who are better off contained for their own safety as well as that of others.

IANAPhilosopher, but that seems like a big theoretical step from a deontological to a utilitarian view of ethics. I don't see that as a practical problem, but I feel it does indicate that making categorical statements about the issue (like "the problem with torture is that its torture" or even to assert that the moral case against torture is sufficiently strong, absent other practical considerations, to ban it) is of questionable justifiability.
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Stone_Wolf_
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SenojRetep...if there was a universally agreed upon definition of torture with no ambiguity, would you agree that it is a good idea to ban it due to it being evil?

Do you agree that it is evil?

What other practical considerations are there?

Do you agree that torture is unreliable at getting information at best?

What circumstances do you feel torture is justified?

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kmbboots
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I don't have a problem with that "big theoretical step". We know how we would ideally act and do the best we can given the constraints of living in the world. That some harm to others may be permissible given that greater harm would happen otherwise, does not make that harm good.
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I don't have a problem with that "big theoretical step". We know how we would ideally act and do the best we can given the constraints of living in the world. That some harm to others may be permissible given that greater harm would happen otherwise, does not make that harm good.

I don't have a problem with the big step either. I'm just saying it means you can't say the problem with torture is that it's torture.
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MattP
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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.
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
SenojRetep...if there was a universally agreed upon definition of torture with no ambiguity, would you agree that it is a good idea to ban it due to it being evil?

Do you agree that it is evil?

What other practical considerations are there?

Do you agree that torture is unreliable at getting information at best?

What circumstances do you feel torture is justified?

I don't have the time, or (honestly) the inclination to answer all of these right now. I think they're interesting questions, and important ones, but complete answers would lead me into a level of committed discussion that I'm not really ready to engage in.

In shortened form,

(1) I would not necessarily accept as evil something that was viewed as such by everyone but me. However, seeing a unanimity of opinion against me would likely cause me serious reflection about my own convictions.

(3) Practical considerations (some of which are mentioned above) include how we are perceived by friends and foes, what actions it limits in the future, propaganda benefits to enemies, potential for abuse, etc.

(2), (4) & (5) Without clearer definitions of torture I wouldn't be able to answer these and I doubt that any answer I could give would be very satisfying.

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SenojRetep
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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.

Apart from the fact that someone (Kate) did say that just a few posts earlier, I would say that your definition isn't a good one, even roughly. It admits far too many (to my opinion) relatively innocuous activities, like the ones I mentioned earlier. In fact, moving from "violence" to "causing pain" increases the set of actions that I would say fall within your definition, and I already gave examples under the previous definition that I think most reasonable people would not consider as torture.
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SenojRetep
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I want to pause to clarify my position, and then I'm going to step away from the thread a bit just because I feel like it has the potential to turn into one of _those_ discussions:

I agree there are good reasons to limit the set of tactics we employ in the interrogation of detainees (or anyone else, for that matter). I feel such limitations are best justified on realist grounds of negative externalities such as those mentioned above. I think moving from a pragmatic to a moral case is difficult, primarily because it's unclear how to delineate the set of actions which are 'torture' in a morally meaningful way. I'm open to, but skeptical of, attempts to do so.

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fugu13
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That it is hard to delineate the line in some cases does not mean it isn't entirely reasonable to ban on moral reasons, for instance, slowly boiling someone alive.
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