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What is "torture"?

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BoomerD

No Lifer
Feb 26, 2006
56,301
4,721
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How many of these techniques would you approve being used on American troops by the enemy?

yes, I realize our troops have been subjected to far worse over the years, and those captured in Iraq are likely to be subjected to far worse, but we are SUPPOSED to be more humane than our enemies...and have always prided our selves on that.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
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Originally posted by: palehorse74
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...
Palehorse, don't take this as a flame, but:

The fact you spent years determining whether waterboarding is torture is actually a damning fact. Imagine 'I spent years determining whether OJ was justified to kill Nicole'.

It's to your credit that you reach a different conclusion than some on the issue of waterboarding, and that you care enough to analyze the morality.

But the fact that there was a 'pro' side that kept you from recognizing it for years says something about your values on the issue as well. And I imagine if you were in charge of the issue, which needed a fast policy, lacking years to decide - though I'm certainly guilty of that on many issues. I was undecided for a long time on global warming; I did not have a clear answer on what to do about Saddam.

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.
And IMO, any measure designed to be strong enuogh to *force* a person to say something against their free will is pretty extreme. It may not sound as extreme when described clinically, but if it weren't extreme in the 'discomfort' caused, to use your word, then it wouldn't make the person unable to refuse to say what the interrogators want, would it?

It's a contradiction to use a mild word like 'discomfort' - something we all have day to day that comes nowhere close to overcoming our ability to refuse to say something - for something which is designed to be so painful as to have that effect. If it were merely discomfort, they'd be able to refuse to say what they want.

If it helps, add the phrase "to such a degree of suffering they can not refuse to talk" after any technique you approve of, and maybe that will help you see the problem.

But again, I give you credit, limited as it is, for not being in the 'who cares how much suffering it causes' group that believes in dehumanizing the detainees.

You at least recognize the moral need not to torture in general.
 

CycloWizard

Lifer
Sep 10, 2001
12,353
1
81
I would naively define torture as applying distress to obtain information. Distress could be mental, physical, emotional, or perhaps even verbal. I might instead define torture as the violation of basic human dignity in an effort to obtain information. Therefore, I think the only thing in the OP's list that might not be construed as torture might be the use of truth serums, but that would depend on the nature of the serum and the manner of interrogation following its application.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
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Originally posted by: CycloWizard
I would naively define torture as applying distress to obtain information. Distress could be mental, physical, emotional, or perhaps even verbal. I might instead define torture as the violation of basic human dignity in an effort to obtain information. Therefore, I think the only thing in the OP's list that might not be construed as torture might be the use of truth serums, but that would depend on the nature of the serum and the manner of interrogation following its application.
It may surprise some to hear that if truth serums did not cause much pain/harm, I'd agree to their use.

Maybe we can find some common ground between those who want the detainees to be given a big party every night and plenty of alchohol, and the people who want the info extracted.

Doesn't work on Muslims, though, who don't drink.
 

StepUp

Senior member
May 12, 2004
654
0
76
I find it peculiar that so many on this board are up in arms about enemy combatants, typically captured in an arena of conflict, being subjected to physical and mental anguish, while allowing life to be snuffed out through abortion, and believe it is a womans right to choose; even more peculiar are those that would die to protect the life of an unborn fetus, and then stop defending its rights if it turns out to be homosexual.
 

Pabster

Lifer
Apr 15, 2001
16,988
1
0
Originally posted by: StepUp
I find it peculiar that so many on this board are up in arms about enemy combatants, typically captured in an arena of conflict, being subjected to physical and mental anguish, while allowing life to be snuffed out through abortion, and believe it is a womans right to choose; even more peculiar are those that would die to protect the life of an unborn fetus, and then stop defending its rights if it turns out to be homosexual.
Hypocrisy, indeed.
 

Rustler

Golden Member
Jan 14, 2004
1,255
1
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Whatever means it takes to get the information is fine with me. As long as it stops one terriost attack and saves American lives.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
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Originally posted by: Rustler
Whatever means it takes to get the information is fine with me. As long as it stops one terriost attack and saves American lives.
So, is it ok for any enemy of the US to use any means it takes to get info from American troops, as long as it stops one American attack and saves enemy lives?
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
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Originally posted by: StepUp
I find it peculiar that so many on this board are up in arms about enemy combatants, typically captured in an arena of conflict, being subjected to physical and mental anguish, while allowing life to be snuffed out through abortion, and believe it is a womans right to choose; even more peculiar are those that would die to protect the life of an unborn fetus, and then stop defending its rights if it turns out to be homosexual.
You shouldn't be so surprised when you understand that those who hold that position have different views of the fetus than you do.

It would be peculiar and hypocritical for you to do this; it's not hypocritical for abortion proponents to do so.

You can attack their beliefs, but their beliefs about the fetus remove conflict between their support for abortion and their opposition to torture.

And lest the point be forgotten with your introduction of a second issue, two wrongs don't make a right.
 

Gaard

Diamond Member
Feb 17, 2002
8,911
0
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I was just wondering if anyone would classify any of those as torture but still condone it's usage?

I know there are many here who don't have a problem with waterboarding (et al), but I'm not sure if they consider it torture or not.
 

Gaard

Diamond Member
Feb 17, 2002
8,911
0
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Originally posted by: Rustler
Whatever means it takes to get the information is fine with me. As long as it stops one terriost attack and saves American lives.
Torture is fine if it saves American lives? But it's not ok if it saves non-Americans?

 

FoBoT

No Lifer
Apr 30, 2001
63,091
12
76
fobot.com
NOTA

torture is things like:
chopping off their ears
or putting glowing embers under the finger nails
attaching cables to genitals and running an electric current
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
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Originally posted by: Craig234
And IMO, any measure designed to be strong enuogh to *force* a person to say something against their free will is pretty extreme. It may not sound as extreme when described clinically, but if it weren't extreme in the 'discomfort' caused, to use your word, then it wouldn't make the person unable to refuse to say what the interrogators want, would it?

It's a contradiction to use a mild word like 'discomfort' - something we all have day to day that comes nowhere close to overcoming our ability to refuse to say something - for something which is designed to be so painful as to have that effect. If it were merely discomfort, they'd be able to refuse to say what they want.

If it helps, add the phrase "to such a degree of suffering they can not refuse to talk" after any technique you approve of, and maybe that will help you see the problem.

But again, I give you credit, limited as it is, for not being in the 'who cares how much suffering it causes' group that believes in dehumanizing the detainees.

You at least recognize the moral need not to torture in general.
Craig, you seem to be under the impression that enemy combatants have some sort of "right to remain silent," as though they were common American criminals. I don't recall ever learning the Miranda Rights, let alone reading them to one of our captives... what's all this nonsense about their being "able to refuse to say what they want" or having the right to "refuse to talk"?? Where does that come from? :confused:

Originally posted by: Craig234
So, is it ok for any enemy of the US to use any means it takes to get info from American troops, as long as it stops one American attack and saves enemy lives?
Not a single one of America's enemies during the last century, or this one, has treated captured Americans humanely.

That said, with regards to what you wrote, bad treatment by our enemies may not be "OK," but it's sure as hell expected!
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
71,119
20,790
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Originally posted by: palehorse74

Not a single one of America's enemies during the last century, or this one, has treated captured Americans humanely.

That said, with regards to what you wrote, bad treatment by our enemies may not be "OK," but it's sure as hell expected!
While I agree with you that Craig is wrong when he says that our captives have some sort of right to remain silent, you are not correct that our enemies have not treated captured Americans humanely. In general our prisoners in World War 1 were treated pretty well.

While there are certainly a litany of exceptions (in particular airmen carpet bombing German civilian areas), by and large the Geneva Conventions were upheld between Germany and the Allies in the second world war. Yes there are cases in which Germany shot prisoners, etc...etc. but it is beyond dispute that the Geneva Convention and the mutual ownership of prisoners resulted in something approaching reasonable treatment considering the circumstances. There were shortages of food, etc in prison camps in the later years, but that was more a condition of life in Germany in general at that point as opposed to something specifically directed at prisoners.

So, I would have to say that you are wrong when you say that we have not had enemies that treated our prisoners humanely.

EDIT: Oh by the way I meant the western allies in WW2, I think everyone knows how horribly Germany treated Russian POWs.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
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Originally posted by: eskimospy
Originally posted by: palehorse74

Not a single one of America's enemies during the last century, or this one, has treated captured Americans humanely.

That said, with regards to what you wrote, bad treatment by our enemies may not be "OK," but it's sure as hell expected!
While I agree with you that Craig is wrong when he says that our captives have some sort of right to remain silent
Well, let's talk about what that means.

Given that I said I'd support a non-harmful truth syrum, I've already gone past the 'right to remain silent'; I also go beyond it in that we have the right to interrogate prisoners.

But where do you go from there when prisoners don't want to talk? No coercion doesn't change that. Can you yell at them? Slap them? Kick and punch them? Break their fingers? It comes down to that 'light' coercion is typically unable to change their choice not to talk, and to 'force' them to talk, to overcome their free will not to, requires the more sever levels of suffering that I'm classifying as torture and not acceptable. So what does it mean when you throw out the phrase that they don't have the right to remain silent?

Does it mean you are advocating the use of sufficient suffering to get them not to be able to keep refusing, and if not, how do you get them to talk when they don't want to?

It may sound like splitting a hair, but I don't give them the 'right to remain silent', I give them the right to be free of torture to force them to talk if they choose not to.

So yes, in practice but not principle, that is similar to a 'right to remain silent'. On the other hand, interrogators are able to get a lot of detainees to talk within the rules I stated.
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,520
0
0
Originally posted by: FoBoT
NOTA

torture is things like:
chopping off their ears
or putting glowing embers under the finger nails
attaching cables to genitals and running an electric current
You can't define something just by giving examples. WHY are those things torture, but the things palehorse74 listed not torture?

On the other hand, I see what your implied definition is...the use of extreme discomfort to break through any possible resistance the subject might have and make them willing to do or say anything to get the treatment to stop. I don't think that's too unreasonable a definition, but if it IS a good definition, waterboarding is certainly torture. It's extremely clever torture, in that it looks pretty benign and doesn't leave marks or scars, but you might as well be attaching jumper cables to their genitals. Waterboarding is essentially controlled drowning, and I challenge anyone who's had that particular experience to say intentionally inflicting that on someone isn't torture.
 

GrGr

Diamond Member
Sep 25, 2003
3,204
0
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Bush?s torturers follow where the Nazis led

By Andrew Sullivan

10/07/07 "The Times" -- -- I remember that my first response to the reports of abuse and torture at Guantanamo Bay was to accuse the accusers of exaggeration or deliberate deception. I didn?t believe America would ever do those things. I?d also supported George W Bush in 2000, believed it necessary to give the president the benefit of the doubt in wartime, and knew Donald Rumsfeld as a friend.

It struck me as a no-brainer that this stuff was being invented by the far left or was part of Al-Qaeda propaganda. After all, they train captives to lie about this stuff, don?t they? Bottom line: I trusted the president in a time of war to obey the rule of law that we were and are defending. And then I was forced to confront the evidence.

From almost the beginning of the war, it is now indisputable, the Bush administration made a strong and formative decision: in the absence of good intelligence on the Islamist terror threat after 9/11, it would do what no American administration had done before. It would torture detainees to get information.

This decision was and is illegal, and violates America?s treaty obligations, the military code of justice, the United Nations convention against torture, and US law. Although America has allied itself over the decades with some unsavoury regimes around the world and has come close to acquiescing to torture, it has never itself tortured. It has also, in liberating the world from the evils of Nazism and communism, and in crafting the Geneva conventions, done more than any other nation to banish torture from the world. George Washington himself vowed that it would be a defining mark of the new nation that such tactics, used by the British in his day, would be anathema to Americans.

But Bush decided that 9/11 changed all that. Islamists were apparently more dangerous than the Nazis or the Soviets, whom Americans fought and defeated without resorting to torture. The decision to enter what Dick Cheney called ?the dark side? was made, moreover, in secret; interrogators who had no idea how to do these things were asked to replicate some of the methods US soldiers had been trained to resist if captured by the Soviets or Vietcong.

Classic torture techniques, such as waterboarding, hypothermia, beatings, excruciating stress positions, days and days of sleep deprivation, and threats to family members (even the children of terror suspects), were approved by Bush and inflicted on an unknown number of terror suspects by American officials, CIA agents and, in the chaos of Iraq, incompetents and sadists at Abu Ghraib. And when the horror came to light, they denied all of it and prosecuted a few grunts at the lowest level. The official reports were barred from investigating fully up the chain of command.

Legally, the White House knew from the start that it was on extremely shaky ground. And so officials told pliant in-house lawyers to concoct memos to make what was illegal legal. Their irritation with the rule of law, and their belief that the president had the constitutional authority to waive it, became a hallmark of their work.

They redefined torture solely as something that would be equivalent to the loss of major organs or leading to imminent death. Everything else was what was first called ?coercive interrogation?, subsequently amended to ?enhanced interrogation?. These terms were deployed in order for the president to be able to say that he didn?t support ?torture?. We were through the looking glass.

After Abu Ghraib, some progress was made in restraining these torture policies. The memo defining torture out of existence was rescinded. The Military Commissions Act was crafted to prevent the military itself from being forced to violate its own code of justice. But the administration clung to its torture policies, and tried every legal manoeuvre to keep it going and keep it secret. Much of this stemmed from the vice-president?s office.

Last week The New York Times revealed more. We now know that long after Abu Ghraib was exposed, the administration issued internal legal memos that asserted the legality of many of the techniques exposed there. The memos not only gave legal cover to waterboarding, hypothermia and beating but allowed them in combination to intensify the effect.

The argument was that stripping a chained detainee naked, pouring water over him while keeping room temperatures cold enough to induce repeated episodes of dangerous hypothermia, was not ?cruel, inhuman or degrading?. We have a log of such a technique being used at Guantanamo. The victim had to be rushed to hospital, brought back from death, then submitted once again to ?enhanced interrogation?.

George Orwell would have been impressed by the phrase ?enhanced interrogation technique?. By relying on it, the White House spokesman last week was able to say with a straight face that the administration strongly opposed torture and that ?any procedures they use are tough, safe, necessary and lawful?.

So is ?enhanced interrogation? torture? One way to answer this question is to examine history. The phrase has a lineage. Verschärfte Verneh-mung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the ?third degree?. It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.

The United States prosecuted it as a war crime in Norway in 1948. The victims were not in uniform ? they were part of the Norwegian insurgency against the German occupation ? and the Nazis argued, just as Cheney has done, that this put them outside base-line protections (subsequently formalised by the Geneva conventions).

The Nazis even argued that ?the acts of torture in no case resulted in death. Most of the injuries inflicted were slight and did not result in permanent disablement?. This argument is almost verbatim that made by John Yoo, the Bush administration?s house lawyer, who now sits comfortably at the Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

The US-run court at the time clearly rejected Cheney?s arguments. Base-line protections against torture applied, the court argued, to all detainees, including those out of uniform. They didn?t qualify for full PoW status, but they couldn?t be abused either. The court also relied on the plain meaning of torture as defined under US and international law: ?The court found it decisive that the defendants had inflicted serious physical and mental suffering on their victims, and did not find sufficient reason for a mitigation of the punishment . . .?

The definition of torture remains the infliction of ?severe mental or physical pain or suffering? with the intent of procuring intelligence. In 1948, in other words, America rejected the semantics of the current president and his aides. The penalty for those who were found guilty was death. This is how far we?ve come. And this fateful, profound decision to change what America stands for was made in secret. The president kept it from Congress and from many parts of his own administration.

Ever since, the United States has been struggling to figure out what to do about this, if anything. So far Congress has been extremely passive, although last week?s leaks about the secret pro-torture memos after Abu Ghraib forced Arlen Specter, a Republican senator, to proclaim that the memos ?are more than surprising. I think they are shocking?. Yet the public, by and large, remains indifferent; and all the Republican candidates, bar John McCain and Ron Paul, endorse continuing the use of torture.

One day America will come back? the America that defends human rights, the America that would never torture detainees, the America that leads the world in barring the inhuman and barbaric. But not until this president leaves office. And maybe not even then.

---------------------

/thread



 

GrGr

Diamond Member
Sep 25, 2003
3,204
0
76
Originally posted by: Ozoned
GRGR



Nothing has changed. We just have the internet now.
You do now that the Spanish Inquisition used waterboarding don't you? The only real difference is that the US uses cellophane instead of cloth rags, the water does the rest. Only the Spanish Inquisition didn't bother with pretty euphemisms and called it what it was "tortura del agua".
 

manowar821

Diamond Member
Mar 1, 2007
6,064
0
0
Originally posted by: bbdub333
Originally posted by: manowar821
Let's make it easier for you, kid. Do you think forced drowning can be defined as torture?
Aren't you like 15?
It was supposed to be condescending in a funny way, not exactly a flame... I'm actually fairly certain that palehorse is either NEAR my age, or possibly even older.

Not that it matters, seeing as I'm perfectly capable of typing coherent sentences.. But no, I'm actually 23.
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
76
Originally posted by: manowar821
Originally posted by: bbdub333
Originally posted by: manowar821
Let's make it easier for you, kid. Do you think forced drowning can be defined as torture?
Aren't you like 15?
It was supposed to be condescending in a funny way, not exactly a flame... I'm actually fairly certain that palehorse is either NEAR my age, or possibly even older.

Not that it matters, seeing as I'm perfectly capable of typing coherent sentences.. But no, I'm actually 23.
I'm actually in my mid-thirties... kid. This subject is also very important to me, for various reasons, so please try to remain civil.

Originally posted by: Craig234
The fact you spent years determining whether waterboarding is torture is actually a damning fact. Imagine 'I spent years determining whether OJ was justified to kill Nicole'.

It's to your credit that you reach a different conclusion than some on the issue of waterboarding, and that you care enough to analyze the morality.

But the fact that there was a 'pro' side that kept you from recognizing it for years says something about your values on the issue as well. And I imagine if you were in charge of the issue, which needed a fast policy, lacking years to decide - though I'm certainly guilty of that on many issues. I was undecided for a long time on global warming; I did not have a clear answer on what to do about Saddam.
I have a pretty good reason for why this subject is of particular interest to me personally; hence the inner-turmoil for several years, with regards to water-boarding and other "harsh" techniques. Let's just say that they are a very common topic of discussion... along the lines of "What if...?"
 

WHAMPOM

Diamond Member
Feb 28, 2006
7,630
181
106
Like the judge said "he knows porn when he sees it". You would know torture when you see it, which,,,is,,,why,,,the,,,CIA,,,destroyed,,,their,,,tapes.
 

Rustler

Golden Member
Jan 14, 2004
1,255
1
81
The emeny will use any means to get information from our troops and kill them in the end.

Remember a terriost is not a uniformed combantant and not covered by the Geneva Convention.


For those that are nit picking also Non American lives.
 

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