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What is "torture"?

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
76
OK, over the years we have had some pretty decent "debates" here about various aspects of interrogation and "torture." I'd like to expand our recent discussion of water-boarding to a more thorough discussion of any/all techniques that may/may not be contraversial, or outright unacceptable.

From the following list of supposed methods, tell us which of them you consider "torture," whether or not they are acceptable, under ANY circumstances, and why.

1) Water-boarding
2) Stress positions
3) Sleep deprivation
4) Temperature fluctuations
5) Darkness / Brightness
6) Loud noises or music
7) Isolation
8) "Truth" serums
9) All of the above
10) Other

/discuss
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
71,097
20,747
136
The only problem with what you're asking is that many of the things there are subject to degrees. Is sleep depravation for a day or two torture? I don't think you'd find many people that would say yes. Long enough periods of sleep depravation cause brain damage, insanity, and even death though. Is that torture? Most reasonable people would say yes. That's why torture laws are written in the subjective manner that they are.

There's no reason why you need to make your captives super comfortable, but there's also no reason for a civilized nation to torture people.

I'll answer your questions, but they won't be good ones.

1.) Yes, for obvious reasons. This should not even be a debate.
2.) Depends
3.) Depends
4.) Depends
5.) Depends
6.) Depends
7.) Depends
8.) No
 

Dari

Lifer
Oct 25, 2002
17,136
37
91
People trying to redefine torture should not complain when it's done to their own.
 

brownzilla786

Senior member
Dec 18, 2005
907
0
0
Would 8 really be considered torture? Wouldn't it just go against your 5th amendment rights?

I think 1,3 are more serious types of torture, the others seem like more petty annoyances in comparison
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
71,097
20,747
136
Originally posted by: brownzilla786
Would 8 really be considered torture? Wouldn't it just go against your 5th amendment rights?

I think 1,3 are more serious types of torture, the others seem like more petty annoyances in comparison
Well again, it really depends on the degree. Is temperature fluctuation to the point of heat stroke or hypothermia torture? I'd say so. You can make 'stress positions' severe enough and for long enough durations as to cause some pretty serious problems in people. Loud noises and music often come in with sleep depravation, and long term isolation can cause pretty severe psychological damage as well.

It's all just too dependant on how they are employed to really say. That is except for waterboarding. I'm not sure how you would go about doing that without it being torture.
 

Harvey

Administrator<br>Elite Member
Administrator
Oct 9, 1999
35,052
28
86
Originally posted by: Dari
People trying to redefine torture should not complain when it's done to their own.
People trying to redefine torture should volunteer to have the "enhanced" techniques tested on them! :thumbsdown: :| :thumbsdown:
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
345
126
My definition: torture is the use of any measures on a detainee which are for the purpose of forcing them to reveal information against their free will not to. I'm against it in all reasonable cases (if it could very likely prevent a nuclear attack? Well, we can talk, but that's unlikely to ever happen).

Let's run through a few examples for my test.

Allowed are measures designed to persuade the person to talk: ideological/propaganda, rewards, befriending the person, long hours of interviews but not to the point aimed at physical/mental inability to resist.

Not allowed: waterboarding aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, heat/cold/other discomfort to the extremes aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, sleep deprivation aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, etc.

Allowed: heat, cold, sleep deprivation, hunger, noise, and other suffering *for legitimate reasons* to a degree appropriate for the fact that the person is in custody, not a hotel, but not aimed at overcoming their ability to not answer things.

I think that my definition captures the issue of torture very well...

"Your honor, my client was tortured by the use of thumb screws." The interrogators would have little defense for such a device.

"Your honor, my client was tortured by not being able to sleep for 48 hours from the noise." The interrogators: "He was detained in a cell where there was a battle going on for 48 hours - the noise was not aimed at causing him suffering to force him to talk, but was part of the situation of where he was taken into custody". Not guilty.

"Your honor, my client was subjected to 115 degree heat all day for days on end". The interrogators: "This happened while he was being held on the battlefield where he was captured until transferred to prison - everyone was suffering from 115 degree heat all day for days on end". Not guilty.

The bottom line is, if the measures are designed to force the person not to be able to keep quiet, from suffering - whether from pain, sleep deprivation, heat and cold, hunger, sexual abuse, etc., it's wrong to do to someone powerless in custody. The measures used which are reported to sometimes cause long-term psychological damage are far over the line IMO.

I can't answer the question the way PH asked it, because they aren't 'yes/no', topics, as described above. Heat/cold? Depends on the situation - was it used to force talking?
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,464
719
126
Originally posted by: Craig234
My definition: torture is the use of any measures on a detainee which are for the purpose of forcing them to reveal information against their free will not to. I'm against it in all reasonable cases (if it could very likely prevent a nuclear attack? Well, we can talk, but that's unlikely to ever happen).

Let's run through a few examples for my test.

Allowed are measures designed to persuade the person to talk: ideological/propaganda, rewards, befriending the person, long hours of interviews but not to the point aimed at physical/mental inability to resist.

Not allowed: waterboarding aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, heat/cold/other discomfort to the extremes aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, sleep deprivation aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, etc.

Allowed: heat, cold, sleep deprivation, hunger, noise, and other suffering *for legitimate reasons* to a degree appropriate for the fact that the person is in custody, not a hotel, but not aimed at overcoming their ability to not answer things.

I think that my definition captures the issue of torture very well...

"Your honor, my client was tortured by the use of thumb screws." The interrogators would have little defense for such a device.

"Your honor, my client was tortured by not being able to sleep for 48 hours from the noise." The interrogators: "He was detained in a cell where there was a battle going on for 48 hours - the noise was not aimed at causing him suffering to force him to talk, but was part of the situation of where he was taken into custody". Not guilty.

"Your honor, my client was subjected to 115 degree heat all day for days on end". The interrogators: "This happened while he was being held on the battlefield where he was captured until transferred to prison - everyone was suffering from 115 degree heat all day for days on end". Not guilty.

The bottom line is, if the measures are designed to force the person not to be able to keep quiet, from suffering - whether from pain, sleep deprivation, heat and cold, hunger, sexual abuse, etc., it's wrong to do to someone powerless in custody. The measures used which are reported to sometimes cause long-term psychological damage are far over the line IMO.

I can't answer the question the way PH asked it, because they aren't 'yes/no', topics, as described above. Heat/cold? Depends on the situation - was it used to force talking?
Good reply Craig. Under the way you stated these, I agree 100%. Unfortunately the term "reletive" and "reasonable" will never be settled on this board, or anywhere for that matter.
 

BoomerD

No Lifer
Feb 26, 2006
56,280
4,692
126
So when the CIA took Vietnamese prisoners for a helicopter ride to question them...and threw several out of the aircraft from several hundred feet to compel another prisoner to answer...was that torture too, or merely innovative questioning techniques?
 

Martin

Lifer
Jan 15, 2000
29,179
1
81
Whatever The Decider decides is right and good. Otherwise he wouldn't be The Decider, would he?
 

manowar821

Diamond Member
Mar 1, 2007
6,064
0
0
Originally posted by: BoomerD
So when the CIA took Vietnamese prisoners for a helicopter ride to question them...and threw several out of the aircraft from several hundred feet to compel another prisoner to answer...was that torture too, or merely innovative questioning techniques?
That was cold blooded murder.


.. And an innovative questioning technique.. :p
 

manowar821

Diamond Member
Mar 1, 2007
6,064
0
0
Originally posted by: Martin
Whatever The Decider decides is right and good. Otherwise he wouldn't be The Decider, would he?
He's not supposed to be the decider, he's SUPPOSED to be our head representative.

We should start electing real representatives, again, that would be nice.
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
76
Originally posted by: Harvey
Originally posted by: Dari
People trying to redefine torture should not complain when it's done to their own.
People trying to redefine torture should volunteer to have the "enhanced" techniques tested on them! :thumbsdown: :| :thumbsdown:
It is impossible to "redefine" something that has never been properly defined to begin with.

Which items, on the list I posted in the OP, would you classify as "torture"?
 

ManSnake

Diamond Member
Oct 26, 2000
4,749
0
0
Originally posted by: palehorse74
Originally posted by: Harvey
Originally posted by: Dari
People trying to redefine torture should not complain when it's done to their own.
People trying to redefine torture should volunteer to have the "enhanced" techniques tested on them! :thumbsdown: :| :thumbsdown:
It is impossible to "redefine" something that has never been properly defined to begin with.

Which items, on the list I posted in the OP, would you classify as "torture"?
It's a really easy answer. Torture is anything that you don't want others do to you. So if you don't mind others tying you up and pour water on your face over a towel, then good for you!
 

manowar821

Diamond Member
Mar 1, 2007
6,064
0
0
Originally posted by: palehorse74
Originally posted by: Harvey
Originally posted by: Dari
People trying to redefine torture should not complain when it's done to their own.
People trying to redefine torture should volunteer to have the "enhanced" techniques tested on them! :thumbsdown: :| :thumbsdown:
It is impossible to "redefine" something that has never been properly defined to begin with.

Which items, on the list I posted in the OP, would you classify as "torture"?
Waterboarding...

You shove a cloth of some sort into the victims mouth to be used as a control mechanism for the flow of water into the lungs. You need to be able to control how much water is flowing in so as to not actually kill them, only get the lungs 1/3rd full. You pour water until the person starts to show signs of drowning, then flip them over, empty the water from their lungs, and then start again. That is, if the agent committing the act is competent in his job.

It is not "simulated drowning", it IS drowning.

Let's make it easier for you, kid. Do you think forced drowning can be defined as torture?
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
76
Originally posted by: Craig234
My definition: torture is the use of any measures on a detainee which are for the purpose of forcing them to reveal information against their free will not to. I'm against it in all reasonable cases (if it could very likely prevent a nuclear attack? Well, we can talk, but that's unlikely to ever happen).

Let's run through a few examples for my test.

Allowed are measures designed to persuade the person to talk: ideological/propaganda, rewards, befriending the person, long hours of interviews but not to the point aimed at physical/mental inability to resist.

Not allowed: waterboarding aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, heat/cold/other discomfort to the extremes aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, sleep deprivation aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, etc.

Allowed: heat, cold, sleep deprivation, hunger, noise, and other suffering *for legitimate reasons* to a degree appropriate for the fact that the person is in custody, not a hotel, but not aimed at overcoming their ability to not answer things.

I think that my definition captures the issue of torture very well...

"Your honor, my client was tortured by the use of thumb screws." The interrogators would have little defense for such a device.

"Your honor, my client was tortured by not being able to sleep for 48 hours from the noise." The interrogators: "He was detained in a cell where there was a battle going on for 48 hours - the noise was not aimed at causing him suffering to force him to talk, but was part of the situation of where he was taken into custody". Not guilty.

"Your honor, my client was subjected to 115 degree heat all day for days on end". The interrogators: "This happened while he was being held on the battlefield where he was captured until transferred to prison - everyone was suffering from 115 degree heat all day for days on end". Not guilty.

The bottom line is, if the measures are designed to force the person not to be able to keep quiet, from suffering - whether from pain, sleep deprivation, heat and cold, hunger, sexual abuse, etc., it's wrong to do to someone powerless in custody. The measures used which are reported to sometimes cause long-term psychological damage are far over the line IMO.

I can't answer the question the way PH asked it, because they aren't 'yes/no', topics, as described above. Heat/cold? Depends on the situation - was it used to force talking?
Congrats... you've essentially addressed the issue by stating the obvious. :D

Let's assume that the detainees are intentionally subjected to the conditions in the list for the purpose of extracting pertenant information, and try to re-address each one...

Example: Extreme fluctuations in temperature (NOT extreme temperatures! ie. one hour at 35 degrees followed by one hour of 110 degrees, rinse and repeat), and bright lights being turned on and off over the course of a certain period of time, are known to cause temporary confusion and disorientation in a subject, which often results in direct answers to direct questions. Is this torture?

I'll let you imagine examples for the rest of them on your own...
 

GrGr

Diamond Member
Sep 25, 2003
3,204
0
76
Of course waterboarding is torture. Otherwise there would be no point to it.
 

1EZduzit

Lifer
Feb 4, 2002
11,834
1
0
Originally posted by: palehorse74
OK, over the years we have had some pretty decent "debates" here about various aspects of interrogation and "torture." I'd like to expand our recent discussion of water-boarding to a more thorough discussion of any/all techniques that may/may not be contraversial, or outright unacceptable.

From the following list of supposed methods, tell us which of them you consider "torture," whether or not they are acceptable, under ANY circumstances, and why.

1) Water-boarding
2) Stress positions
3) Sleep deprivation
4) Temperature fluctuations
5) Darkness / Brightness
6) Loud noises or music
7) Isolation
8) "Truth" serums
9) All of the above
10) Other

/discuss
Obviously it depends on whether they're doing the above to me or you.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
345
126
Originally posted by: palehorse74
Originally posted by: Craig234
My definition: torture is the use of any measures on a detainee which are for the purpose of forcing them to reveal information against their free will not to. I'm against it in all reasonable cases (if it could very likely prevent a nuclear attack? Well, we can talk, but that's unlikely to ever happen).

Let's run through a few examples for my test.

Allowed are measures designed to persuade the person to talk: ideological/propaganda, rewards, befriending the person, long hours of interviews but not to the point aimed at physical/mental inability to resist.

Not allowed: waterboarding aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, heat/cold/other discomfort to the extremes aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, sleep deprivation aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, etc.

Allowed: heat, cold, sleep deprivation, hunger, noise, and other suffering *for legitimate reasons* to a degree appropriate for the fact that the person is in custody, not a hotel, but not aimed at overcoming their ability to not answer things.

I think that my definition captures the issue of torture very well...

"Your honor, my client was tortured by the use of thumb screws." The interrogators would have little defense for such a device.

"Your honor, my client was tortured by not being able to sleep for 48 hours from the noise." The interrogators: "He was detained in a cell where there was a battle going on for 48 hours - the noise was not aimed at causing him suffering to force him to talk, but was part of the situation of where he was taken into custody". Not guilty.

"Your honor, my client was subjected to 115 degree heat all day for days on end". The interrogators: "This happened while he was being held on the battlefield where he was captured until transferred to prison - everyone was suffering from 115 degree heat all day for days on end". Not guilty.

The bottom line is, if the measures are designed to force the person not to be able to keep quiet, from suffering - whether from pain, sleep deprivation, heat and cold, hunger, sexual abuse, etc., it's wrong to do to someone powerless in custody. The measures used which are reported to sometimes cause long-term psychological damage are far over the line IMO.

I can't answer the question the way PH asked it, because they aren't 'yes/no', topics, as described above. Heat/cold? Depends on the situation - was it used to force talking?
Congrats... you've essentially addressed the issue by stating the obvious. :D
Not surprisingly, I disagree with you that this is 'obvious'; I think it's the missing answer for the issue from all the debate I've seen. You didn't make clear you agree or disagree?

Let's assume that the detainees are intentionally subjected to the conditions in the list for the purpose of extracting pertenant information, and try to re-address each one...

Example: Extreme fluctuations in temperature (NOT extreme temperatures! ie. one hour at 35 degrees followed by one hour of 110 degrees, rinse and repeat), and bright lights being turned on and off over the course of a certain period of time, are known to cause temporary confusion and disorientation in a subject, which often results in direct answers to direct questions. Is this torture?

I'll let you imagine examples for the rest of them on your own...
They're all answered in my post - if they're subjected to the temperature fluctuations not for any legitimate reason (deserts are known to be hot in the day and cold at night at times), but for the purpose of causing suffering for the purpose of overcoming the person's ability to not answer questions, then it's torture and unacceptable.

Since there's not much reason to subject them to intentional temperature fluctuations short of that objective, I don't anticipate a lot of gray area cases arising. They'll either be clearly not intended to cause suffering for that reason, or clearly intended to cause suffering for that reason.
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
76
Originally posted by: manowar821
Let's make it easier for you, kid. Do you think forced drowning can be defined as torture?
Easy there gramps... we dont need this to turn into another flame thread.

If you'll take a moment, and a deep breath, you'll notice that I have not given my opinion on ANY of these techniques here in this thread. I have my own opinion on each of them, of course, but I'm looking to see more discussion before I throw in my entire two cents.

Just an appatizer: I too, after MUCH more thought on this subject that you can possibly imagine, have decided that I personally believe waterboarding IS torture, and therefore it should never be used again. (I've been on the fence for years with that one!) I'd also support private investigations, hearings, and prosecutions for the alleged deletion of the videos at the CIA, but that's a different subject...

So again, please, let's keep this flame-free and focus on discussing each and every technique...
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,709
3,515
126
Do you believe that what terrorists do is wrong and evil? If you know that what they do is wrong and evil you have won because to do what they would do you know is wrong and not an option for you. No evil can befall a good man in this world or the next. No man can love himself who commits evil and so no evil person can win. If you don't understand this you don't really understand anything. Only by doing what is right can the soul be clean and only the clean can have true self respect. If you don't respect yourself, you are nothing. The difference between self respect and egotistical self love is immense but totally invisible to fools.
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
76
Originally posted by: Craig234
Originally posted by: palehorse74
Originally posted by: Craig234
My definition: torture is the use of any measures on a detainee which are for the purpose of forcing them to reveal information against their free will not to. I'm against it in all reasonable cases (if it could very likely prevent a nuclear attack? Well, we can talk, but that's unlikely to ever happen).

Let's run through a few examples for my test.

Allowed are measures designed to persuade the person to talk: ideological/propaganda, rewards, befriending the person, long hours of interviews but not to the point aimed at physical/mental inability to resist.

Not allowed: waterboarding aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, heat/cold/other discomfort to the extremes aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, sleep deprivation aimed at overcoming the ability not to answer, etc.

Allowed: heat, cold, sleep deprivation, hunger, noise, and other suffering *for legitimate reasons* to a degree appropriate for the fact that the person is in custody, not a hotel, but not aimed at overcoming their ability to not answer things.

I think that my definition captures the issue of torture very well...

"Your honor, my client was tortured by the use of thumb screws." The interrogators would have little defense for such a device.

"Your honor, my client was tortured by not being able to sleep for 48 hours from the noise." The interrogators: "He was detained in a cell where there was a battle going on for 48 hours - the noise was not aimed at causing him suffering to force him to talk, but was part of the situation of where he was taken into custody". Not guilty.

"Your honor, my client was subjected to 115 degree heat all day for days on end". The interrogators: "This happened while he was being held on the battlefield where he was captured until transferred to prison - everyone was suffering from 115 degree heat all day for days on end". Not guilty.

The bottom line is, if the measures are designed to force the person not to be able to keep quiet, from suffering - whether from pain, sleep deprivation, heat and cold, hunger, sexual abuse, etc., it's wrong to do to someone powerless in custody. The measures used which are reported to sometimes cause long-term psychological damage are far over the line IMO.

I can't answer the question the way PH asked it, because they aren't 'yes/no', topics, as described above. Heat/cold? Depends on the situation - was it used to force talking?
Congrats... you've essentially addressed the issue by stating the obvious. :D
Not surprisingly, I disagree with you that this is 'obvious'; I think it's the missing answer for the issue from all the debate I've seen. You didn't make clear you agree or disagree?

Let's assume that the detainees are intentionally subjected to the conditions in the list for the purpose of extracting pertenant information, and try to re-address each one...

Example: Extreme fluctuations in temperature (NOT extreme temperatures! ie. one hour at 35 degrees followed by one hour of 110 degrees, rinse and repeat), and bright lights being turned on and off over the course of a certain period of time, are known to cause temporary confusion and disorientation in a subject, which often results in direct answers to direct questions. Is this torture?

I'll let you imagine examples for the rest of them on your own...
They're all answered in my post - if they're subjected to the temperature fluctuations not for any legitimate reason (deserts are known to be hot in the day and cold at night at times), but for the purpose of causing suffering for the purpose of overcoming the person's ability to not answer questions, then it's torture and unacceptable.

Since there's not much reason to subject them to intentional temperature fluctuations short of that objective, I don't anticipate a lot of gray area cases arising. They'll either be clearly not intended to cause suffering for that reason, or clearly intended to cause suffering for that reason.
In other words, putting aside the obvious environmental elements you keep mentioning, you consider all of the listed methods torture if/when they are created artificially - regardless of who the subject is... correct?

IMO, that's pretty extreme.

For those who've been waiting: The ONLY item on that list that I truly consider torture is water-boarding. Everything else, when supervised by a trained professional, seems very reasonable to me.

I view the rest of them as mere "discomfort."
 

dmcowen674

No Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
54,912
46
91
www.alienbabeltech.com
Originally posted by: manowar821
Waterboarding...

You shove a cloth of some sort into the victims mouth to be used as a control mechanism for the flow of water into the lungs. You need to be able to control how much water is flowing in so as to not actually kill them, only get the lungs 1/3rd full. You pour water until the person starts to show signs of drowning, then flip them over, empty the water from their lungs, and then start again. That is, if the agent committing the act is competent in his job.

It is not "simulated drowning", it IS drowning.
Obviously since this administration does it it is OK as shown by the resident GOP supporters that they support this.

Of course if it were a Democrat administration they would be against it.

/thread

Now back to the Ron Paul threads
 

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