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What is "torture"?

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Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,520
0
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Originally posted by: Obsoleet
Main Entry: 1tor·ture
Pronunciation: \'to?r-ch?r\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French, from Old French, from Late Latin tortura, from Latin tortus, past participle of torquere to twist; probably akin to Old High German drahsil turner, Greek atraktos spindle
Date: 1540
1 a: anguish of body or mind : agony b: something that causes agony or pain
2: the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure
3: distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument : straining

By the only and real definition, marriage could be included.

That said, in war you do whatever it takes to win. As long as you do methods that are proven to work reliably, obviously you want reliable information.

"Torture" in our military's sense might not be torture at all, all the prisoner has to do is give up the information and it's over.

It's their decision to end whatever is being done to them. I'd personally quit being so stubborn maybe?
But whatever people want to do with their time.

If you like broken legs thats cool but no one's ever had their legs broken in dedication to me so I doubt I'd go through that for the USA.

It depends who captured me though, if it was Islamic terrorists I wouldn't give up any information because they'd probably cut my head off anyway so there's no point in helping them out. Now if it was the Chinese or the US who captured me I'd probably give up the info because I'd guess they'd be more likely to let me go or at least not break legs ect.

To me this isn't a debate, its a two way street, you can always choose to give up the goods.
And the root problem is why wars keep happening, not defining what torture is.

How about instead of the wedge issues we just bring the troops home or does this country enjoy wasting time on distractions to what really matters right now? Stupid question, this is America.
Morality and ethics aren't "wedge issues". Regardless of the direct impact of decisions like torturing people, it's the mindset that ultimately is a bigger concern.
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,520
0
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Originally posted by: GrGr
Yup. that is why i said the OP is looking to "Jack Bauer" people. The OP is greasing the slope to make it more slippery. At the heart of this discussion is the same old "the end justifies the means" mentality the OP has often previously demonstrated he supports. Palehorse does not support international law or the GC, he supports "might makes right" (as long as he is part of the mighty I presume), he has demonstrated this many times in the past.
"Greasing the slope to make it more slippery", I like that. And honestly, it explains the problem with this debate pretty well. Whenever anybody starts talking about the ends justifying the means, I stop and wonder just how do you separate things into "ends" and "means". Ultimately, that's the argument being made, that we CAN separate our goals from the methods we use to achieve those goals...but I think that's being a little optimistic. You can't torture without becoming a torturer, and while we might save America, suddenly we're saving a country that tortures people. As Nietzsche would say, you need to be careful about staring too long into the abyss, lest you find it staring back into you.

The question of whether or not the ends justify the means is really kind of moot. Whether or not it's true in theory, in practice, there are no ends, only means.
 

Obsoleet

Platinum Member
Oct 2, 2007
2,184
1
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I'm saying it's stupid to talk about because war is war.
You are never going to legislate how to tell the CIA how to torture and not. You might be able to change their public statement is all.
It is a wedge issue due to this.
War is war, and when you must fight a war, like WW2, you end it as soon as possible to prevent as much unnecessary death as you can.
Even a guy in the Japanese gov't said we did the right thing to do Nagasaki and Hiroshima because they'd fought till the bitter end anyway. You just make judgement calls whether its something like that or torturing enemies.

Can't lay out DONT DO THIS. First of all thats silly to tie your military's hands, secondly they won't do what Joe Jackass suggests anyway.

The mindset that really needs to change, and one that will make a difference is our role in the world. When we stop starting ill informed wars preemptively, then we'll stop having to talk about torture.

When there is a war worth fighting, I'm all for winning it and doing what works. You'll never change that mentality anyway as it could save lives so the military (thankfully) isn't going to listen to an armchair general.
Clearly Islamic terrorism has to be faced in some way, but full scale invasions probably have not eased the common peasants feelings of American pressure due to our aid of Israel and now we are also sitting in the mideast with guns pointed everywhere.

Nice!

Most rational Americans like myself would actually prefer small scale paramilitary operations in the mideast to fight terrorism, specifically targeted. If torture is the best way to communicate with an Islamic radical, then do it. If it saves lives then do it.
This lowers innocent death, gets straight to the terrorists, and doesn't force us to blow up Iraqi bridges, then pay to rebuild them...
when we have bridges falling in this country.

To me, the goal is to have less death. Torture isn't killing, war is. There are worse things.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
345
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Originally posted by: Obsoleet
I'm saying it's stupid to talk about because war is war.
You are never going to legislate how to tell the CIA how to torture and not. You might be able to change their public statement is all.
It is a wedge issue due to this.
War is war, and when you must fight a war, like WW2, you end it as soon as possible to prevent as much unnecessary death as you can.
Even a guy in the Japanese gov't said we did the right thing to do Nagasaki and Hiroshima because they'd fought till the bitter end anyway. You just make judgement calls whether its something like that or torturing enemies.

Can't lay out DONT DO THIS. First of all thats silly to tie your military's hands, secondly they won't do what Joe Jackass suggests anyway.

The mindset that really needs to change, and one that will make a difference is our role in the world. When we stop starting ill informed wars preemptively, then we'll stop having to talk about torture.

When there is a war worth fighting, I'm all for winning it and doing what works. You'll never change that mentality anyway as it could save lives so the military (thankfully) isn't going to listen to an armchair general.
Clearly Islamic terrorism has to be faced in some way, but full scale invasions probably have not eased the common peasants feelings of American pressure due to our aid of Israel and now we are also sitting in the mideast with guns pointed everywhere.

Nice!

Most rational Americans like myself would actually prefer small scale paramilitary operations in the mideast to fight terrorism, specifically targeted. If torture is the best way to communicate with an Islamic radical, then do it. If it saves lives then do it.
This lowers innocent death, gets straight to the terrorists, and doesn't force us to blow up Iraqi bridges, then pay to rebuild them...
when we have bridges falling in this country.

To me, the goal is to have less death. Torture isn't killing, war is. There are worse things.
If you were right that you cannot control the CIA's torture policies through the law, then we need to shut down the CIA operations that torture, period.

Your false dilemma - choose torture over war - doesn't work, either. We can have no torture, and stop starting unnecessary wars, not just one or the other.

When it does come to a choice in a 'just' war whether to torture people in hopes it will save lives, the answer, IMO, is no, you do not do that. You use other means to try to win.
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
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Originally posted by: GrGr
Yup. that is why i said the OP is looking to "Jack Bauer" people. The OP is greasing the slope to make it more slippery. At the heart of this discussion is the same old "the end justifies the means" mentality the OP has often previously demonstrated he supports. Palehorse does not support international law or the GC, he supports "might makes right" (as long as he is part of the mighty I presume), he has demonstrated this many times in the past.
If any of that were true, I would not draw the line at water-boarding and mock-executions - both of which I consider torture, and therefore illegal.

I am on the side of those who would say that torture is illegal and out-of-bounds for ANY U.S. agency. The subject I'd like to discuss is what actually constitutes "torture," because I do not believe there has ever been a definitive line or black-and-white definition - even in the GC's!

As Rainsford points out, some methods become "torture" only when they are carried out for X-number of hours too long, or in excess. To me, that implies a very gray area that we could, through debate and discussion, make "less gray."

GrGr - Maybe you should stop trying to judge my character, and instead try to keep up with the actual discussion... Here is the challenge in a nutshell:

If we all agree that "torture" is wrong, then which specific methods constitute torture?

I believe that without a specific list, any/all laws and regulations remain too ambiguous, and too much is left to interpretation. I'd simply like to see the "gray" areas made black-and-white.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
345
126
Originally posted by: palehorse74
Originally posted by: GrGr
Yup. that is why i said the OP is looking to "Jack Bauer" people. The OP is greasing the slope to make it more slippery. At the heart of this discussion is the same old "the end justifies the means" mentality the OP has often previously demonstrated he supports. Palehorse does not support international law or the GC, he supports "might makes right" (as long as he is part of the mighty I presume), he has demonstrated this many times in the past.
If any of that were true, I would not draw the line at water-boarding and mock-executions - both of which I consider torture, and therefore illegal.

I am on the side of those who would say that torture is illegal and out-of-bounds for ANY U.S. agency. The subject I'd like to discuss is what actually constitutes "torture," because I do not believe there is a definitive line or black-and-white definition.

As Rainsford points out, some methods become "torture" only when they are carried out for X-number of hours too long, or in excess. To me, that implies a very gray area that we could, through debate and discussion, make "less gray."

GrGr - Maybe you should stop trying to judge my character, and instead try to keep up with the actual discussion...
I still think you're taking a backward approach to this. Let's instead say that measures need some legitimate basis.

For example, let's pretend that tickling fits your description; 5 seconds of tickling is harmless, but 96 hours of tickling both makes people talk and causes mental damage.

You aren't going to debate your way to where the line is drawn at 30 minutes, and 31 is torture.

What you can get to is saying 'the purpose of prolonged tickling, using Craig's torture definition, is to cause such suffering as to overcome the person's ability to say no to talking, and so it's torture - and the authorities have no business tickling prisoners'. Easy. You don't need to define the line where it's torture, you need to say, they have no need to be inflicting tickling, or stress positions, or other such measures where the measure is either too little suffering and has no real other purpose, or is torture.
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
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Originally posted by: Craig234
Originally posted by: palehorse74
Originally posted by: GrGr
Yup. that is why i said the OP is looking to "Jack Bauer" people. The OP is greasing the slope to make it more slippery. At the heart of this discussion is the same old "the end justifies the means" mentality the OP has often previously demonstrated he supports. Palehorse does not support international law or the GC, he supports "might makes right" (as long as he is part of the mighty I presume), he has demonstrated this many times in the past.
If any of that were true, I would not draw the line at water-boarding and mock-executions - both of which I consider torture, and therefore illegal.

I am on the side of those who would say that torture is illegal and out-of-bounds for ANY U.S. agency. The subject I'd like to discuss is what actually constitutes "torture," because I do not believe there is a definitive line or black-and-white definition.

As Rainsford points out, some methods become "torture" only when they are carried out for X-number of hours too long, or in excess. To me, that implies a very gray area that we could, through debate and discussion, make "less gray."

GrGr - Maybe you should stop trying to judge my character, and instead try to keep up with the actual discussion...
I still think you're taking a backward approach to this. Let's instead say that measures need some legitimate basis.

For example, let's pretend that tickling fits your description; 5 seconds of tickling is harmless, but 96 hours of tickling both makes people talk and causes mental damage.

You aren't going to debate your way to where the line is drawn at 30 minutes, and 31 is torture.

What you can get to is saying 'the purpose of prolonged tickling, using Craig's torture definition, is to cause such suffering as to overcome the person's ability to say no to talking, and so it's torture - and the authorities have no business tickling prisoners'. Easy. You don't need to define the line where it's torture, you need to say, they have no need to be inflicting tickling, or stress positions, or other such measures where the measure is either too little suffering and has no real other purpose, or is torture.
OK, but I would still have to disagree. I will use the following analogy: anesthetics. Administering too little is ineffective, and too much could kill; but, if you administer just the right dose, the results are perfect and effective.

The same is true with some methods of disorientation when they are administered by trained professionals.

(also, please go back to my last post.. I edited it to try and spell out my purpose for the entire discussion. It may help focus our comments!)
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,520
0
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Originally posted by: palehorse74
...

If we all agree that "torture" is wrong, then which specific methods constitute torture?

I believe that without a specific list, any/all laws and regulations remain too ambiguous, and too much is left to interpretation. I'd simply like to see the "gray" areas made black-and-white.
The problem with that is you end up with a policy that is easy to get around. You can't possibly enumerate all the current methods of extracting information, and even if you could, who's to say that someone won't come up with a new approach tomorrow?

Law by its very nature has to be at least a little ambiguous, because you're trying to cover all possible situations, and spelling them all out would be impossible. I know that this is not a popular idea with many political conservatives, but that's what we have judges for...to interpret how the general law applies to a specific situation. It can't be like looking up the answer in the back of the book, because the book couldn't possibly be long enough to have ALL the answers.

And in this specific instance, there is no need to enumerate everything that's torture...because the policy shouldn't be that everything that's torture is prohibited and everything else is OK. A much easier solution (and the current one, as far as I know) is to list the ALLOWED interrogation techniques and prohibit everything else. The things not on the list don't have to be torture, they just aren't allowed. This removes ambiguity without having to come up with a comprehensive list of prohibited techniques. And honestly, if some thought goes into the allowed techniques list, I don't see where the problem is. If interrogators can't get information using a decent number of well thought out techniques, maybe we need some new interrogators.
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
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Originally posted by: Rainsford
Originally posted by: palehorse74
...

If we all agree that "torture" is wrong, then which specific methods constitute torture?

I believe that without a specific list, any/all laws and regulations remain too ambiguous, and too much is left to interpretation. I'd simply like to see the "gray" areas made black-and-white.
The problem with that is you end up with a policy that is easy to get around. You can't possibly enumerate all the current methods of extracting information, and even if you could, who's to say that someone won't come up with a new approach tomorrow?
Then you simply add it to the list, or create the list of authorized methods you mentioned. Not doing so leaves everything open to interpretation by every agency or individual.

Law by its very nature has to be at least a little ambiguous, because you're trying to cover all possible situations, and spelling them all out would be impossible. I know that this is not a popular idea with many political conservatives, but that's what we have judges for...to interpret how the general law applies to a specific situation. It can't be like looking up the answer in the back of the book, because the book couldn't possibly be long enough to have ALL the answers
Sure it could. Current proposals all list several specific methods in their "DO NOT DO" sections. You simply amend the law with each new "method" that comes to light - either "authorized" or "not authorized."

And in this specific instance, there is no need to enumerate everything that's torture...because the policy shouldn't be that everything that's torture is prohibited and everything else is OK. A much easier solution (and the current one, as far as I know) is to list the ALLOWED interrogation techniques and prohibit everything else. The things not on the list don't have to be torture, they just aren't allowed.
As far as I know, the only complete list of "allowed techniques" is in the DoD, for the DoD. That system certainly works, but it doesnt solve the entire problem when there are roughly 20 other agencies involved in intelligence...

This removes ambiguity without having to come up with a comprehensive list of prohibited techniques. And honestly, if some thought goes into the allowed techniques list, I don't see where the problem is. If interrogators can't get information using a decent number of well thought out techniques, maybe we need some new interrogators.
At the moment, as spelled out in 2-22.3, none of the methods listed in the OP are authorized within the DoD... but where's the list that governs ALL intelligence agencies?

Answer: there isn't one.

So now we're back to square one - without a list. :(

If the DNI were to create a list that applies to any/all agencies, beyond the simple approaches in 2-22.3, which of those listed in the OP should be on it? Any? None? Others?

I highly doubt that the CIA would accept the list in 2-22.3... so what then?
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,520
0
0
Originally posted by: palehorse74
Originally posted by: Rainsford
Originally posted by: palehorse74
...

If we all agree that "torture" is wrong, then which specific methods constitute torture?

I believe that without a specific list, any/all laws and regulations remain too ambiguous, and too much is left to interpretation. I'd simply like to see the "gray" areas made black-and-white.
The problem with that is you end up with a policy that is easy to get around. You can't possibly enumerate all the current methods of extracting information, and even if you could, who's to say that someone won't come up with a new approach tomorrow?
Then you simply add it to the list, or create the list of authorized methods you mentioned. Not doing so leaves everything open to interpretation by every agency or individual.

Law by its very nature has to be at least a little ambiguous, because you're trying to cover all possible situations, and spelling them all out would be impossible. I know that this is not a popular idea with many political conservatives, but that's what we have judges for...to interpret how the general law applies to a specific situation. It can't be like looking up the answer in the back of the book, because the book couldn't possibly be long enough to have ALL the answers
Sure it could. Current proposals all list several specific methods in their "DO NOT DO" sections. You simply amend the law with each new "method" that comes to light - either "authorized" or "not authorized."

And in this specific instance, there is no need to enumerate everything that's torture...because the policy shouldn't be that everything that's torture is prohibited and everything else is OK. A much easier solution (and the current one, as far as I know) is to list the ALLOWED interrogation techniques and prohibit everything else. The things not on the list don't have to be torture, they just aren't allowed.
As far as I know, the only complete list of "allowed techniques" is in the DoD, for the DoD. That system certainly works, but it doesnt solve the entire problem when there are roughly 20 other agencies involved in intelligence...

This removes ambiguity without having to come up with a comprehensive list of prohibited techniques. And honestly, if some thought goes into the allowed techniques list, I don't see where the problem is. If interrogators can't get information using a decent number of well thought out techniques, maybe we need some new interrogators.
At the moment, as spelled out in 2-22.3, none of the methods listed in the OP are authorized within the DoD... but where's the list that governs ALL intelligence agencies?

Answer: there isn't one.

So now we're back to square one - without a list. :(

If the DNI were to create a list that applies to any/all agencies, beyond the simple approaches in 2-22.3, which of those listed in the OP should be on it? Any? None? Others?

I highly doubt that the CIA would accept the list in 2-22.3... so what then?
Well, this DOES seem like the kind of thing the DNI should be doing...it would be nice if SOMETHING useful came out of that office. I'm not saying it will be easy, but I do think it needs to be done. And I think the best approach is to have a list of allowed methods, with anything NOT on the list being not allowed. Otherwise it's just too hard to keep up.

As for what the CIA does and does not want to do, since when do we let intelligence agencies run this country? They do their job within the parameters set by the civilian leadership of this country; they aren't the damn secret police and they sure as shit don't get a free pass to operate outside the law. And quite honestly, I don't think they have a lot of bargaining power here, it's not like they are a bunch of operational geniuses who's competence and methods can't possibly be questioned.
 

Throckmorton

Lifer
Aug 23, 2007
16,833
1
0
Originally posted by: RFE
Originally posted by: JohnOfSheffield
Originally posted by: RFE
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
I think Cyclo Wizard has it about right here:

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.

I would define a torture as a coward who applies the above because he has no real faith or core morality. A coward only thinks in terms of results and the importance of his life. There is nothing he would die for, especially his own personal dignity. A torturer is a person who has no self respect and no self love, and unaware of the God within himself sees not the God within those he tortures.

A torturer is a person who is emotionally dead and whose soul already is in hell. Torture is his means to revenge.

To torture is to admit to yourself that you are worthless.

Ye will know yourselves by how you treat the least among ye.

Easily said......or perhaps more accurately, easily typed from the comfort of your home/office. It doesn't seem appropriate to be so generic with this topic as the situation/circumstance hasn't been considered. In cases where the CIA uses this, we're not talking about trivial stakes or simply acting out of malice. Do you recall that the people being subject to these "tortures" are those that are willing members of a group that would have the US (and a few other Western civilizations) wiped off the face of the map? These are the same people willing to blow themselves up or ram jets [that they are piloting] just to kill people that don't agree with their radical views. Is that acceptable? Given that nature, I?d say that several of the ?tortures? list in the OP are fair and justified in comparison.

Moonbeam, it?s readily apparent that you've never been in harms way in a military setting. Honestly, I'm very glad for that, but don't be so quick to take the high ground when you haven't given thought to likely circumstances and long term ramifications of not obtaining critical information quickly. It?s not like the CIA can refer to Wikipedia for info needed to save lives or prevent a disaster. What about protecting the rights of the truly innocent (life, liberty, property, pursuit of happiness, those precious things that terrorists yearn to relieve even you of)?

What you don't get (i'm a Captain in the Briitish service) is that what you think doesn't fucking matter at all, international laws and the geneva conventions is what i've sworn to uphold and if i had actually seen someone break them i would have been justified in shooting them in the head to defend those laws.

There is no "kinda" or "sort of" the laws are clearly defined and anyone who breaks them is an enemy combatant in my book.

The rest of the shit you are meant to protect is secondary, if you had actually been an officer you would have known that.
Well, then you better get to work executing members of various British intel branches. Truth serum, sleep deprivation, etc, a little to rigid for you? Better load that pistol up, pal.
Laws regarding the Geneva Convention are, like most laws, subject to legal interpretation. If at some point in time, your government determined that captured terrorists were not POW's and the Geneva Convention doesn't apply, then you best fall in line, soldier. The rest of the "shit" that you're meant to protect is secondary, if you're an officer, you better recognize THAT. If the crap starts hitting the fan again, the interpretation of the laws may very well change yet again (or new laws added). Not to mention, we're talking about intel agencies, not the military (at least I was as my original post clearly indicates). Thank goodness Palehorse74 recognized this (thank you, Palehorse).

Moonbeam, Jesus was only sacrificing himself with the goal in mind of saving many. While I understand the point that you're trying to make, I honestly don't think that's a good quote to use when discussing the safety of many Western countries. Kind of opposite to that effect (sacrifice one for the good of the many.....and certainly not the sacrifice of a life, either).
As a soldier or any government employee, you take an oath to defend the Constitution. You don't need the Geneva convention to tell you that torture is illegal and wrong.
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
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76
Originally posted by: Rainsford
Well, this DOES seem like the kind of thing the DNI should be doing...it would be nice if SOMETHING useful came out of that office. I'm not saying it will be easy, but I do think it needs to be done. And I think the best approach is to have a list of allowed methods, with anything NOT on the list being not allowed. Otherwise it's just too hard to keep up.

As for what the CIA does and does not want to do, since when do we let intelligence agencies run this country? They do their job within the parameters set by the civilian leadership of this country; they aren't the damn secret police and they sure as shit don't get a free pass to operate outside the law. And quite honestly, I don't think they have a lot of bargaining power here, it's not like they are a bunch of operational geniuses who's competence and methods can't possibly be questioned.
I agree with everything you just wrote... has anyone in Congress ever mentioned the creation of such a list by the DNI?
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,520
0
0
Originally posted by: palehorse74
Originally posted by: Rainsford
Well, this DOES seem like the kind of thing the DNI should be doing...it would be nice if SOMETHING useful came out of that office. I'm not saying it will be easy, but I do think it needs to be done. And I think the best approach is to have a list of allowed methods, with anything NOT on the list being not allowed. Otherwise it's just too hard to keep up.

As for what the CIA does and does not want to do, since when do we let intelligence agencies run this country? They do their job within the parameters set by the civilian leadership of this country; they aren't the damn secret police and they sure as shit don't get a free pass to operate outside the law. And quite honestly, I don't think they have a lot of bargaining power here, it's not like they are a bunch of operational geniuses who's competence and methods can't possibly be questioned.
I agree with everything you just wrote... has anyone in Congress ever mentioned the creation of such a list by the DNI?
Not that I've heard, the whole issue seems to be getting pretty studiously ignored at the high level, which seems pretty odd. I suspect it's because it has become a pretty delicate political issue, to the point where no matter what you do, SOMEONE is going to rip into you for it come election time. If the list is too restrictive, you're "soft on terror"...if it's too permissive, you're some sort of Nazi psycho. It's sad that politics takes precedence over actually getting the job done, but it's hardly surprising.
 

GrGr

Diamond Member
Sep 25, 2003
3,204
0
76
Inside the CIA's Notorious "Black Sites"

A Yemeni man never charged by the U.S. details 19 months of brutality and psychological torture -- the first in-depth, first-person account from inside the secret U.S. prisons. A Salon exclusive.

By Mark Benjamin

12/16/07 "Salon" --- - The CIA held Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah in several different cells when he was incarcerated in its network of secret prisons known as "black sites." But the small cells were all pretty similar, maybe 7 feet wide and 10 feet long. He was sometimes naked, and sometimes handcuffed for weeks at a time. In one cell his ankle was chained to a bolt in the floor. There was a small toilet. In another cell there was just a bucket. Video cameras recorded his every move. The lights always stayed on -- there was no day or night. A speaker blasted him with continuous white noise, or rap music, 24 hours a day.

The guards wore black masks and black clothes. They would not utter a word as they extracted Bashmilah from his cell for interrogation -- one of his few interactions with other human beings during his entire 19 months of imprisonment. Nobody told him where he was, or if he would ever be freed.

It was enough to drive anyone crazy. Bashmilah finally tried to slash his wrists with a small piece of metal, smearing the words "I am innocent" in blood on the walls of his cell. But the CIA patched him up.

So Bashmilah stopped eating. But after his weight dropped to 90 pounds, he was dragged into an interrogation room, where they rammed a tube down his nose and into his stomach. Liquid was pumped in. The CIA would not let him die.

On several occasions, when Bashmilah's state of mind deteriorated dangerously, the CIA also did something else: They placed him in the care of mental health professionals. Bashmilah believes these were trained psychologists or psychiatrists. "What they were trying to do was to give me a sort of uplifting and to assure me," Bashmilah said in a telephone interview, through an interpreter, speaking from his home country of Yemen. "One of the things they told me to do was to allow myself to cry, and to breathe."

Last June, Salon reported on the CIA's use of psychologists to aid with the interrogation of terrorist suspects. But the role of mental health professionals working at CIA black sites is a previously unknown twist in the chilling, Kafkaesque story of the agency's secret overseas prisons.

Little about the conditions of Bashmilah's incarceration has been made public until now. His detailed descriptions in an interview with Salon, and in newly filed court documents, provide the first in-depth, first-person account of captivity inside a CIA black site. Human rights advocates and lawyers have painstakingly pieced together his case, using Bashmilah's descriptions of his cells and his captors, and documents from the governments of Jordan and Yemen and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to verify his testimony. Flight records detailing the movement of CIA aircraft also confirm Bashmilah's account, tracing his path from the Middle East to Afghanistan and back again while in U.S. custody.

Bashmilah's story also appears to show in clear terms that he was an innocent man. After 19 months of imprisonment and torment at the hands of the CIA, the agency released him with no explanation, just as he had been imprisoned in the first place. He faced no terrorism charges. He was given no lawyer. He saw no judge. He was simply released, his life shattered.

"This really shows the human impact of this program and that lives are ruined by the CIA rendition program," said Margaret Satterthwaite, an attorney for Bashmilah and a professor at the New York University School of Law. "It is about psychological torture and the experience of being disappeared."

Bashmilah, who at age 39 is now physically a free man, still suffers the mental consequences of prolonged detention and abuse. He is undergoing treatment for the damage done to him at the hands of the U.S. government. On Friday, Bashmilah laid out his story in a declaration to a U.S. district court as part of a civil suit brought by the ACLU against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing accused of facilitating secret CIA rendition flights.

Bashmilah said in the phone interview that the psychological anguish inside a CIA black site is exacerbated by the unfathomable unknowns for the prisoners. While he figured out that he was being held by Americans, Bashmilah did not know for sure why, where he was, or whether he would ever see his family again. He said, "Every time I realize that there may be others who are still there where I suffered, I feel the same thing for those innocent people who just fell in a crack."

It may seem bizarre for the agency to provide counseling to a prisoner while simultaneously cracking him mentally -- as if revealing a humanitarian aspect to a program otherwise calibrated to exploit systematic psychological abuse. But it could also be that mental healthcare professionals were enlisted to help bring back from the edge prisoners who seemed precariously damaged, whose frayed minds were no longer as pliable for interrogation. "My understanding is that the purpose of having psychiatrists there is that if the prisoner feels better, then he would be able to talk more to the interrogators," said Bashmilah.

Realistically, psychiatrists in such a setting could do little about the prisoners' deeper suffering at the hands of the CIA. "They really had no authority to address these issues," Bashmilah said about his mental anguish. He said the doctors told him to "hope that one day you will prove your innocence or that you will one day return to your family." The psychiatrists also gave him some pills, likely tranquilizers. They analyzed his dreams. But there wasn't much else they could do. "They also gave me a Rubik's Cube so I could pass the time, and some jigsaw puzzles," Bashmilah recalled.

The nightmare started for him back in fall 2003. Bashmilah had traveled to Jordan from Indonesia, where he was living with his wife and working in the clothing business. He and his wife went to Jordan to meet Bashmilah's mother, who had also traveled there. The family hoped to arrange for heart surgery for Bashmilah's mother at a hospital in Amman. But before leaving Indonesia, Bashmilah had lost his passport and had received a replacement. Upon arrival in Jordan, Jordanian officials questioned his lack of stamps in the new one, and they grew suspicious when Bashmilah admitted he had visited Afghanistan in 2000. Bashmilah was taken into custody by Jordanian authorities on Oct. 21, 2003. He would not reappear again until he stepped out of a CIA plane in Yemen on May 5, 2005.

Bashmilah's apparent innocence was clearly lost on officials with Jordan's General Intelligence Department. After his arrest, the Jordanians brutally beat him, peppering him with questions about al-Qaida. He was forced to jog around in a yard until he collapsed. Officers hung him upside down with a leather strap and his hands tied. They beat the soles of his feet and his sides. They threatened to electrocute him with wires. The told him they would rape his wife and mother.

It was too much. Bashmilah signed a confession multiple pages long, but he was disoriented and afraid even to read it. "I felt sure it included things I did not say," he wrote in his declaration to the court delivered Friday. "I was willing to sign a hundred sheets so long as they would end the interrogation."

Bashmilah was turned over to the CIA in the early morning hours of Oct. 26, 2003. Jordanian officials delivered him to a "tall, heavy-set, balding white man wearing civilian clothes and dark sunglasses with small round lenses," he wrote in his declaration. He had no idea who his new captors were, or that he was about to begin 19 months of hell, in the custody of the U.S. government. And while he was seldom beaten physically while in U.S. custody, he describes a regime of imprisonment designed to inflict extreme psychological anguish.

I asked Bashmilah which was worse: the physical beatings at the hands of the Jordanians, or the psychological abuse he faced from the CIA. "I consider that psychological torture I endured was worse than the physical torture," he responded. He called his imprisonment by the CIA "almost like being inside a tomb."

"Whenever I saw a fly in my cell, I was filled with joy," he said. "Although I would wish for it to slip from under the door so it would not be imprisoned itself."

After a short car ride to a building at the airport, Bashmilah's clothes were cut off by black-clad, masked guards wearing surgical gloves. He was beaten. One guard stuck his finger in Bashmilah's anus. He was dressed in a diaper, blue shirt and pants. Blindfolded and wearing earmuffs, he was then chained and hooded and strapped to a gurney in an airplane.

Flight records show Bashmilah was flown to Kabul. (Records show the plane originally departed from Washington, before first stopping in Prague and Bucharest.) After landing, he was forced to lie down in a bumpy jeep for 15 minutes and led into a building. The blindfold was removed, and Bashmilah was examined by an American doctor.

He was then placed in a windowless, freezing-cold cell, roughly 6.5 feet by 10 feet. There was a foam mattress, one blanket, and a bucket for a toilet that was emptied once a day. A bare light bulb stayed on constantly. A camera was mounted above a solid metal door. For the first month, loud rap and Arabic music was piped into his cell, 24 hours a day, through a hole opposite the door. His leg shackles were chained to the wall. The guards would not let him sleep, forcing Bashmilah to raise his hand every half hour to prove he was still awake.

Cells were lined up next to each other with spaces in between. Higher above the low ceilings of the cells appeared to be another ceiling, as if the prison were inside an airplane hanger.

After three months the routine became unbearable. Bashmilah unsuccessfully tried to hang himself with his blanket and slashed his wrists. He slammed his head against the wall in an effort to lose consciousness. He was held in three separate but similar cells during his detention in Kabul. At one point, the cell across from him was being used for interrogations. "While I myself was not beaten in the torture and interrogation room, after a while I began to hear the screams of detainees being tortured there," he wrote.

While he was not beaten, Bashmilah was frequently interrogated. "During the entire period of my detention there, I was held in solitary confinement and saw no one other than my guards, interrogators and other prison personnel," he wrote in his declaration. One interrogator accused him of being involved in sending letters to a contact in England, though Bashmilah says he doesn't know anybody in that country. At other times he was shown pictures of people he also says he did not know.

"This is a form of torture," he told me. "Especially when the person subjected to this has not done anything."

In his declaration, Bashmilah made it clear that most of the prison officials spoke English with American accents. "The interrogators also frequently referred to reports coming from Washington," he wrote.

After six months he was transferred, with no warning or explanation. On or around April 24, 2004, Bashmilah was pulled from his cell and placed in an interrogation room, where he was stripped naked. An American doctor with a disfigured hand examined him, jotting down distinctive marks on a paper diagram of the human body. Black-masked guards again put him in a diaper, cotton pants and shirt. He was blindfolded, shackled, hooded, forced to wear headphones, and stacked, lying down, in a jeep with other detainees. Then he remembers being forced up steps into a waiting airplane for a flight that lasted several hours, followed by several hours on the floor of a helicopter.

Upon landing, he was forced into a vehicle for a short ride. Then, Bashmilah took several steps into another secret prison -- location unknown.

He was forced into a room and stripped naked again. Photos were taken of all sides of his body. He was surrounded by about 15 people. "All of them except for the person taking photographs were dressed in the kind of black masks that robbers wear to hide their faces," Bashmilah wrote in the declaration.

He was again examined by a doctor, who took notations on the diagram of the human body. (It was the same form from Afghanistan. Bashmilah saw his vaccination scar marked on the diagram.) The doctor looked in his eyes, ears, nose and throat.

He was then thrown into a cold cell, left naked.

It was another tiny cell, new or refurbished with a stainless steel sink and toilet. Until clothes arrived several days later, Bashmilah huddled in a blanket. In this cell there were two video cameras, one mounted above the door and the other in a wall. Also above the door was a speaker. White noise, like static, was pumped in constantly, day and night. He spent the first month in handcuffs. In this cell his ankle was attached to a 110-link chain attached to a bolt on the floor.

The door had a small opening in the bottom through which food would appear: boiled rice, sliced meat and bread, triangles of cheese, boiled potato, slices of tomato and olives, served on a plastic plate.

Guards wore black pants with pockets, long-sleeved black shirts, rubber gloves or black gloves, and masks that covered the head and neck. The masks had tinted yellow plastic over the eyes. "I never heard the guards speak to each other and they never spoke to me," Bashmilah wrote in his declaration.

He was interrogated more. Bashmilah recalls an interrogator showing him a lecture by an Islamic scholar playing on a laptop. The interrogator wanted to know if Bashmilah knew who the man was, but he did not. It was in this facility that Bashmilah slashed his wrists, then went on his hunger strike, only to be force-fed through a tube forced down his nose.

The CIA seems to have figured out that Bashmilah was not an al-Qaida operative sometime around September 2004, when he was moved to another, similar cell. But there was no more white noise. And while his ankles were shackled, he wasn't bolted to the floor with a chain. He was allowed to shower once a week. He was no longer interrogated and was mostly left alone.

Bashmilah was given a list of books he could read. About a month before he was released, he was given access to an exercise hall for 15 minutes a week. And he saw mental healthcare professionals. "The psychiatrists asked me to talk about why I was so despairing, interpreted my dreams, asked me how I was sleeping and whether I had an appetite, and offered medications such as tranquilizers."

On May 5, 2005, Bashmilah was cuffed, hooded and put on a plane to Yemen. Yemeni government documents say the flight lasted six or seven hours and confirm that he was transferred from the control of the U.S. government. He soon learned that his father had died in the fall of 2004, not knowing where his son had disappeared to, or even if he was alive.

At the end of my interview with Bashmilah, I asked him if there was anything in particular he wanted people to know. "I would like for the American people to know that Islam is not an enemy to other nations," he said. "The American people should have a voice for holding accountable people who have hurt innocent people," he added. "And when there is a transgression against the American people, it should not be addressed by another transgression."

-- By Mark Benjamin

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

It's not the first time I have heard that psychological torture is worse than physical. That means sleep depravation, noise torture, disorientation etc. Are those not the methods you are advocating, Palehorse?





 

Obsoleet

Platinum Member
Oct 2, 2007
2,184
1
0
Originally posted by: Craig234

If you were right that you cannot control the CIA's torture policies through the law, then we need to shut down the CIA operations that torture, period.

Your false dilemma - choose torture over war - doesn't work, either. We can have no torture, and stop starting unnecessary wars, not just one or the other.

When it does come to a choice in a 'just' war whether to torture people in hopes it will save lives, the answer, IMO, is no, you do not do that. You use other means to try to win.
I agree, we should shut down the CIA.

I'm for anything that prevents death though. I'm no expert on if torture works, or what methods, but as long as it doenst kill them (obviously counterproductive) and you get reliable info I have no issue. I'm guessing its different for different cultures.
Instead of being waterboarded you could just give up the info. There IS a way to avoid torture.... it might require treasonous actions against your nation is all.

Like I said, the CIA or whoever, in a time of war is going to do whatever they want/need to anyway. You might not ever know about it.

To me "the win" consists of the least amount of death and destruction as possible. Torture (whatever one defines that as) is not death or destruction. Of course it's not desirable or pleasant.
 

Ozoned

Diamond Member
Mar 22, 2004
5,583
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0
Originally posted by: GrGr


It's not the first time I have heard that psychological torture is worse than physical. That means sleep depravation, noise torture, disorientation etc. Are those not the methods you are advocating, Palehorse?
Wow, quite a story, and very well written. It certainly makes an outstanding appeal to emotion.

I won't speak for palehorse, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes.

 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
345
126
Originally posted by: Ozoned
Originally posted by: GrGr


It's not the first time I have heard that psychological torture is worse than physical. That means sleep depravation, noise torture, disorientation etc. Are those not the methods you are advocating, Palehorse?
Wow, quite a story, and very well written. It certainly makes an outstanding appeal to emotion.

I won't speak for palehorse, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes.
Then how do you complain when anyone else 'does what it takes' to you?

The arrogance of those lucky enough to be born in a powerful nation - what was 'what it takes' regarding the US overthrow of democracy in Iran? Its keeping the Saudi regime in power oppressing Saudis in exchange for access to oil? Its killing of millions who wanted to be free of colonial occupation in Vietnam? The victims in Nicaragua of the US's terrorist Contra army?

The people of your political ilk are the ones who belong first in the line for torture for your own wrongs to others. The fact you merely call for torture of others while having the luxury of a powerful nation puts you among the evil thugs of history, the masses who have complacently tolerated wrongs when it was for their benefit.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
345
126
Originally posted by: palehorse74
Originally posted by: Craig234
Originally posted by: palehorse74
Originally posted by: GrGr
Yup. that is why i said the OP is looking to "Jack Bauer" people. The OP is greasing the slope to make it more slippery. At the heart of this discussion is the same old "the end justifies the means" mentality the OP has often previously demonstrated he supports. Palehorse does not support international law or the GC, he supports "might makes right" (as long as he is part of the mighty I presume), he has demonstrated this many times in the past.
If any of that were true, I would not draw the line at water-boarding and mock-executions - both of which I consider torture, and therefore illegal.

I am on the side of those who would say that torture is illegal and out-of-bounds for ANY U.S. agency. The subject I'd like to discuss is what actually constitutes "torture," because I do not believe there is a definitive line or black-and-white definition.

As Rainsford points out, some methods become "torture" only when they are carried out for X-number of hours too long, or in excess. To me, that implies a very gray area that we could, through debate and discussion, make "less gray."

GrGr - Maybe you should stop trying to judge my character, and instead try to keep up with the actual discussion...
I still think you're taking a backward approach to this. Let's instead say that measures need some legitimate basis.

For example, let's pretend that tickling fits your description; 5 seconds of tickling is harmless, but 96 hours of tickling both makes people talk and causes mental damage.

You aren't going to debate your way to where the line is drawn at 30 minutes, and 31 is torture.

What you can get to is saying 'the purpose of prolonged tickling, using Craig's torture definition, is to cause such suffering as to overcome the person's ability to say no to talking, and so it's torture - and the authorities have no business tickling prisoners'. Easy. You don't need to define the line where it's torture, you need to say, they have no need to be inflicting tickling, or stress positions, or other such measures where the measure is either too little suffering and has no real other purpose, or is torture.
OK, but I would still have to disagree. I will use the following analogy: anesthetics. Administering too little is ineffective, and too much could kill; but, if you administer just the right dose, the results are perfect and effective.

The same is true with some methods of disorientation when they are administered by trained professionals.

(also, please go back to my last post.. I edited it to try and spell out my purpose for the entire discussion. It may help focus our comments!)
I'd have to simply respond that it's a false analogy. Not everything has a middle good.

If a Pedophile holds a child's hand for a second, it's too little to do any real harm; if they rape the child, it's too much, very harmful; there's not some 'happy middle' there.

A rapist trying to frighten a woman into cooperating might do too little to scare her, or 'too much' at which point she is helpless with terror; I see no good 'middle ground'.

Remember, the issue with measures is that you have a prisoner who does not want to talk; using measures that cause suffering really seem to have two settings, 'too little to make them unable to refuse to talk', and 'so much it makes them unable to refuse to talk'. I don't see any analogy to anasthesia where there's an 'ok' amount of suffering that's enough to make them unable to refuse to talk; quite the contrary, suffering inflicted for that purpose at all is wrong IMO.

You brought the 'disorientation' topic back into the middle of it as well, and I have to just refer you back to my comments on that and ask you not to mix it in as if they're the same.

You're still looking for specific lists where I think my broad rule against inflicting suffering for the purpose of overcoming a person's ability to refuse to talk is something to prohibit.

The one new thing I'll mention is that I think that all 'enhanced interrogations' should have mandatory videotaping for later review by investigative authorities/congress.
 

palehorse

Lifer
Dec 21, 2005
11,547
0
76
Originally posted by: GrGr
It's not the first time I have heard that psychological torture is worse than physical. That means sleep depravation, noise torture, disorientation etc. Are those not the methods you are advocating, Palehorse?
I think we can all agree that what was described in that article is certainly torture - that is, the excessive lengths of time the subject was exposed to each method.

Nowhere in this thread have I advocated anything lasting longer than 48 hours. In fact, one of the key questions folks like Rainsford and I have been discussing is the point at which these methods cross the line from discomfort to torture. Many people have agreed that they may be reasonable in very small doses, but that when done in excess, they become torturous. That gray area is one of the ideas we are trying to flesh out.

Please see my asthetics analogy, and try to keep up from now on.
 

Ozoned

Diamond Member
Mar 22, 2004
5,583
0
0
Originally posted by: Craig234
Originally posted by: Ozoned
Originally posted by: GrGr


It's not the first time I have heard that psychological torture is worse than physical. That means sleep depravation, noise torture, disorientation etc. Are those not the methods you are advocating, Palehorse?
Wow, quite a story, and very well written. It certainly makes an outstanding appeal to emotion.

I won't speak for palehorse, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes.
Then how do you complain when anyone else 'does what it takes' to you?

The arrogance of those lucky enough to be born in a powerful nation - what was 'what it takes' regarding the US overthrow of democracy in Iran? Its keeping the Saudi regime in power oppressing Saudis in exchange for access to oil? Its killing of millions who wanted to be free of colonial occupation in Vietnam? The victims in Nicaragua of the US's terrorist Contra army?

The people of your political ilk are the ones who belong first in the line for torture for your own wrongs to others. The fact you merely call for torture of others while having the luxury of a powerful nation puts you among the evil thugs of history, the masses who have complacently tolerated wrongs when it was for their benefit.
Pacifism is not a workable ideology in the world at this time. When man evolves to a point where it is, you and I will likely have been dead for thousands of years.


I just can't understand why people have to deny what they are?
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,495
724
126
Originally posted by: Ozoned
Originally posted by: Craig234
Originally posted by: Ozoned
Originally posted by: GrGr


It's not the first time I have heard that psychological torture is worse than physical. That means sleep depravation, noise torture, disorientation etc. Are those not the methods you are advocating, Palehorse?
Wow, quite a story, and very well written. It certainly makes an outstanding appeal to emotion.

I won't speak for palehorse, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes.
Then how do you complain when anyone else 'does what it takes' to you?

The arrogance of those lucky enough to be born in a powerful nation - what was 'what it takes' regarding the US overthrow of democracy in Iran? Its keeping the Saudi regime in power oppressing Saudis in exchange for access to oil? Its killing of millions who wanted to be free of colonial occupation in Vietnam? The victims in Nicaragua of the US's terrorist Contra army?

The people of your political ilk are the ones who belong first in the line for torture for your own wrongs to others. The fact you merely call for torture of others while having the luxury of a powerful nation puts you among the evil thugs of history, the masses who have complacently tolerated wrongs when it was for their benefit.
Pacifism is not a workable ideology in the world at this time. When man evolves to a point where it is, you and I will likely have been dead for thousands of years.


I just can't understand why people have to deny what they are?
Moonie? :Q
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,733
3,560
126
Originally posted by: blackangst1
Originally posted by: Ozoned
Originally posted by: Craig234
Originally posted by: Ozoned
Originally posted by: GrGr


It's not the first time I have heard that psychological torture is worse than physical. That means sleep depravation, noise torture, disorientation etc. Are those not the methods you are advocating, Palehorse?
Wow, quite a story, and very well written. It certainly makes an outstanding appeal to emotion.

I won't speak for palehorse, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes.
Then how do you complain when anyone else 'does what it takes' to you?

The arrogance of those lucky enough to be born in a powerful nation - what was 'what it takes' regarding the US overthrow of democracy in Iran? Its keeping the Saudi regime in power oppressing Saudis in exchange for access to oil? Its killing of millions who wanted to be free of colonial occupation in Vietnam? The victims in Nicaragua of the US's terrorist Contra army?

The people of your political ilk are the ones who belong first in the line for torture for your own wrongs to others. The fact you merely call for torture of others while having the luxury of a powerful nation puts you among the evil thugs of history, the masses who have complacently tolerated wrongs when it was for their benefit.
Pacifism is not a workable ideology in the world at this time. When man evolves to a point where it is, you and I will likely have been dead for thousands of years.


I just can't understand why people have to deny what they are?
Moonie? :Q
He does not know who we are. He knows only where he is in his own evolution and he mistakes his own place as all that can be done, because of course, he is conceited. A man does not become a pig because he has a pig farm, or a sheep because he shepherds. We were created in the image of God and God doesn't torture. To torture, as I have said over and over, is to admit that you live in hell, that you are blind to your true nature, that you are spiritually asleep, emotionally dead, evil, whatever name you wish. You can argue this till you are blue in the face but you will get no torture out of advanced humans or any questions or doubt they are advanced. Sorry, but love has its own rules and they are binding. If you want to know infinite joy you have to be nice. You don't torture people for the sake of your own soul out of the love of the Divine which is present in everyone. When you torture you kill God or your real self, however you like to see it.
 

Vic

Elite Member
Jun 12, 2001
47,859
8,186
126
Torture is the use of interrogation techniques designed to inflict physical pain and suffering for the purpose of eliciting a particular response.

Which is why it is completely worthless as an legitimate form of interrogation. Twist my arm far enough and for long enough and I'll tell you whatever it is you want me to.
 

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