Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Can't Let Go

This torture debate still holds my attention. The comments in opposition to my opinion on the subject reflect what I consider to be misguided by some, and completely dishonest by others. Those are the two possibilities I'll recognize because "stupid" is only alternative. So for this post, I'm going to offer a number of opinion pieces that keep the issue in its proper perspective.

Kyle-Anne Shiver
Rob Miller
Lee Cary
Thomas Sowell
Lorie Byrd
Debra J. Saunders

These are just a few examples of serious and open-eyed opinion on the subject. Of the many angles covered in these pieces, the most salient I believe is dispelling the notion that we are somehow immoral in our use of enhanced techniques, whether they are labelled as "torture" or not. None of the articles insist that we are perfect or mistake free, but that we are striving to do our best to protect our people and for that we need not apologize nor beg the approval of either the world, or self-serving Bush-haters here at home, disguised as people who care about the high road.


Les said...



Dan Trabue said...

Some other thoughts on torture and the treatment of the "enemy..."

"Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to Complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren…. Provide everything necessary for them on the road."

George Washington, in an order covering prisoners taken in the Battle of Princeton

"I know of no policy, God is my witness, but this — Piety, Humanity and Honesty are the best Policy. Blasphemy, Cruelty and Villainy have prevailed and may again. But they won't prevail against America, in this Contest, because I find the more of them are employed, the less they succeed."

~John Adams, in a letter to his wife

“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”

~George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775

But then, what did they know? Buncha bleeding heart woosy liberals pretending to be opposed to torture just to bash King George...

Marty said...

So glad you can't let this go.

You asked a very good question in your earlier post regarding how some say that the enhanced interrogations don't work and you wanted proof of that. Now, I believe I provided you that proof, albeit from World War II. You ignored it however. I strongly believe we should learn from the past so as not to repeat mistakes, but also to continue strategies and practices that work.

The interrogation techniques used by Major Moran during World War II worked. Moran preferred the term "interviewers/interpreters" rather than interrogator.

Here is the original document penned by Moran and dated 17 July 1943 laying out his technique.

This is from the website Marine Corps Interrogator Translator Teams Association under "Documents".

Read and learn.

Marshall Art said...



Marshall Art said...


Nice quotes on the general treatment of average prisoners of war. I wonder what their opinions were regarding extraction of intel from suspects known to have knowledge of plots to murder large numbers of civilians.

And "Cruelty"? What could be more cruel than allowing unsuspecting civilians to die because you didn't want to make a scumbag uncomfortable?

Marshall Art said...


I didn't ask for proof that enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT) don't work. I asked for proof that "nice" techniques work for the purpose of extracting intel from terrorists known to have knowledge of plots to murder large numbers of unsuspecting civilians. This has been the jist of the last few posts. Your links, while interesting, don't address that. Save me the time and tell me how many, if any, of Moran's subjects fall into that category. I'm guessing none.

Marshall Art said...

Something's just occurred to me. Dan uses quotes from Washington and Adams. It's interesting that he uses people from the past when it's convenient in supporting his positions, but when people from the past don't, he points to their inability to know what we know now. He's done as much with Biblical authors and I wonder if he's among those libs who do the same with our founders as some do with 2nd Amendment discussions.

How much experience did Washington and Adams have with people seeking death in battle for the sake of their gods? How much experience did they have with enemies plotting to murder large numbers of civilians?

In addition, I think they'd be pleased with the overall treatment of detainees at Club Gitmo, where most live better than they did before their capture. The implications of the positions held by people like Dan are in conflict with the realities of our people and how they conduct themselves in this conflict overall. With few exceptions, our treatment of those we take into custody have actually impressed Iraqis. Particularly since Petraeus has been in charge, treatment of captives has been an important part of building rapore(sp) with the Iraqi people and military, as well as drawing a clear distinction between us and those with whom we fight for the benefit of those who might lean toward siding with our enemies.

But people like Dan don't care about that. All that matters is vengeance.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said:

Something's just occurred to me. Dan uses quotes from Washington and Adams. It's interesting that he uses people from the past when it's convenient in supporting his positions, but when people from the past don't

It seems odd to you that I quote people when I agree with them, but don't agree with them when I don't agree with them??

That is, it seems odd that I'd offer a quote from Washington when he expresses his disgust with torture or with a bloated military, but I don't agree with Washington on slavery or women's rights? And you find it odd that I dismiss his antiquated position on slavery and women's rights as, well, antiquated and just not a product of his times?

Does that really seem odd to you or only appropriate?

I believe you're looking for things to disagree with when there's really nothing there.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said:

I wonder what their opinions were regarding extraction of intel from suspects known to have knowledge of plots to murder large numbers of civilians.

Read up on their positions, brother. They were disgusted with the cruel and inhumane way Britain conducted war and treated captives. They were determined that if the US were to succeed, it would have to succeed using decent methods, not savage ones.

Yes, sure, one can make the case that by being more savage, one can better induce fear in their enemies. Sometimes you have to rise above your fears of "What Might Happen??" and just do the right thing. This is part and parcel of the greatness of our founders, this determination to build a more perfect union.

Living in fear and doing "whatever it takes" may make you feel a bit safer, but ultimately, I expect that most people who live in fear of "those bogeymen," will continue living in fear no matter what methods of defense they embrace.

"In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."~Jesus

Marshall Art said...


You've either missed my point or I didn't make it clearly enough. I concede the latter.

It's not simply that you might disagree with our ancestors, but the reason folks like you often give for doing so, which is that their opinions would not be the same should they know what we know now. I'm sure you favor that excuse for your position on Biblical issues and possibly 2nd Amendment issues. So, it is dishonest to then assume that their position on harsher interrogation techniques would not also change should they get to experience the present.

Indeed, I can recall no tales from the Revolution that mirrors in any way the type of plots designed by the enemies we now face, nor, do I recall that the British were known for seeking death to insure heavenly glory. Do you? I doubt that they even conceived of such people existing in the world, at least to the extent that they do. Perhaps you have links to some info regarding an 18th century "9/11"?

You think that because they "were disgusted with the cruel and inhumane way Britain conducted war and treated captives" that that equates to what we're discussing now? You couldn't prove that if your life depended upon it. The British were abusive as a matter of routine. They considered the revolutionaries to be traitors to the crown and treated them like dogs just because they had them in custody and could do so. THAT was what George found disgusting. That's a far cry from having a captive with knowledge of imminent threats to civilians, thus, your anecdotes are once again irrelevant to the issue. Especially since we already are demonstrating having learned the lesson in our treatment of captives at Gitmo.

So I say again that your complaints are just rhetoric and hyperbole aimed at pumping up anger toward the Bush administration and not some humanitarian feelings toward anyone in our custody.

So it is YOU who needs to read up on the mettle of our founding fathers and you'll likely find who Washington was willing to have shot for offenses far less malevolent than plotting to murder civilians. That's because Washington lived in fear. He feared the loss of the war. You, who supports the party of nuance, insist there's no difference between doing what we must by what the situation dictates, and the routine actions of evil people. I believe you take that position only because it was Bush who was making the call.

Your crap about living in fear is also nonsense. It's about doing what needs to be done to protect one's own people. It's about not living with one's head in the sand or up one's own ass (I'll leave it to you to decide which of those two locations YOUR head inhabits.).

You're also full of crap with your nonsense about being savage. Is not war savage? Does that mean we are savage when we go to war to fight off evils such as Nazism? Were we not savage to fight off the British under the civil methods of Washington? You purposely ignore the parallels of what we do with what you say we shouldn't do only because you wish to see Bush punished.

By your own statements, the only way we can reflect Christ is to not only allow ourselves to be killed, but to allow others we have the means to protect to be killed as well, because we would have to employ violence, savagery, brutality and torture to perservere.

What's more, it's deceitful and slanderous to insist that our use of harsh techniques on uncooperative captives to save lives is in any way comparable to use of worse techniques for punishment and sport by sadistic and malevolent enemies. It's contemptable and shameful and shows that it is you who lives in fear. You fear your own people.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall incorrectly stated:

So I say again that your complaints are just rhetoric and hyperbole aimed at pumping up anger toward the Bush administration and not some humanitarian feelings toward anyone in our custody.

For a minute, set aside your emotional arguments and distaste for my personal positions (or your mistaken view of them). Look at the argument itself.

My mother and father are traditional conservative Southern Baptist Christians. Have been all their lives. They're exceedingly good people, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

They disagree with the notion of the US using torture. It is a ridiculous thing to do, it's simply against our ideals. We don't do torture. Period.

Now, is it your argument that you think folk like my traditional often Republican (though not always - they came to really find Bush distasteful because of issues like the Iraq War and torture) conservative parents are liars who just hate Bush? Or do you think they're stupid? Or what do you do with them and the people like them?

You may disagree with our position, but it is not one that is based on fear or hatred or anything AT ALL but a desire to live right.

Marshall Art said...

Are you trying to bait me into insulting your parents? They already have a mark against them no matter how nice they are.

But how do I know the level of their understanding? How do I know how you've laid out the issue in order to gain their "traditional conservative Southern Baptist Christian" perspective. All I have is your word and considering your penchant for constantly diverting issues, for steadfastly holding to baseless arguments on other issues, I'm not sure that your word is good enough. Ask them if they're willing to slap around a guy who knows who's holding you captive and about to blow your brain out. Ask them, since you like to really gin up the emotion, if they're willing to risk having their grandchildren's tongues ripped out rather than waterboard the guy who knows who's about to do it. Then get back to me.

Dan Trabue said...

These would be my points, Marshall:

1. You are in the minority in the US. We believe waterboarding to be torture and we are opposed to torture. You disagree on at least the first count and possibly the second.

2. Being the minority position doesn't mean you're wrong (although I think you are), but it does mean you need to convince us that it's good policy to torture people into confessing so that lives may be saved. As it is now, we just don't believe you. We disagree with your position.

3. The way to convince people like me or the countless traditional conservatives who remain opposed to torture (even if it might save lives) is NOT by insulting us, telling us we're liars or traitors or that we don't care for our children or nation, or by telling us we just hate Bush.

We know for a fact (since we know our own hearts and you don't) that none of these false charges are true in our own lives.

4. So my point is that you need to reason your position out and, when you still fail to convince us, you need to accept that reasonable and moral people can disagree with you and still be reasonable and moral.

Your approach is ugly and self-defeating. Not that I mind if you do a piss poor job of trying to make a case for torture, but I do care about the climate of conversation in the US.

Mark said...

OK, Art, since Dan won't answer me, perhaps you could pose the question to him. What would Dan do to illicit info from the terrorists? Ask him. Ask him how nice one has to be to get terrorists to give up that kind of info.

Dan Trabue said...

“The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called ‘universal jurisdiction.’ Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.”

~Ronald Reagan, in the signing statement ratifying the UN Convention on Torture, 1984

That Convention (which is US law) tells us...

"The term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession..."

Wow, even Reagan was strongly opposed to torture.

Marty said...

"I asked for proof that "nice" techniques work for the purpose of extracting intel from terrorists known to have knowledge of plots to murder large numbers of unsuspecting civilians."

Well, there isn't any proof because we've not implemented "nice" techniques. We prefer the uncivilized caveman approach in dealing with those we feel are less than human.

Perhaps we should try Moran's technique and see what happens. Problem is, we've not invested the time and training to produce interrogators like Moran. 'Tis a pity that.

Dan Trabue said...

My problem with that question, Marty, is that it presupposes that we can take corrupt actions IF the ends are good. But the problem with that is the ends do not justify the means.

WHAT IF the one and only way to stop nuclear destruction of the US is to wipe out Mexico (or Iran, or Iraq) with several nukes first? Would that then be okay to do so? No, it wouldn't.

The problem is it presumes too much of human knowledge. We might THINK that IF we don't take action A, Bad Action X will happen as a result. But we are fallible humans, we may be wholly wrong about Bad Action X. Or we may take action A and Bad Action X may happen anyway as a result.

In short, if we choose to embrace evil (and torture IS an evil), then we MAY or MAY NOT prevent another perhaps greater evil from happening. BUT, we know for sure that the evil we choose will happen, because we chose it ourselves.

The problem with this thinking, as I've said all along, is that it is fear-based decision-making, taking actions based on the boogeyman of what might happen.

That's no way to live. We should make our decisions from a position of righteousness and strength of mind rather than from a position of fear.

Marshall Art said...


Another irrelevant quote. Keep 'em coming and I'll explain to your simple mind why they don't apply. Like the others you've thus far presented, it makes no reference to extreme situations such as I have continually referred. Nothing in Reagan's speech causes me any concern in the context in which it was given. I don't believe you can prove he had anything like the hypothetical to which I keep referring. Thus, you've again wasted keystrokes. So henceforth, remember that I have conceded all things to which the captive might object fall under the umbrella of torture including being a captive itself, for the emotional and psychological harm it so obviously brings him. OK? So you can shitcan the next thought of reminding me how torture might be defined or who in history has opposed it. Don't pretend they're talking about the same thing I am. We both know they're referring to torture as it is used by our enemies, and when it is used for more general purposes than what I've mentioned. Until you can deal with this distinction, then consider that I haven't been insulting you, but labeling you accurately for you intellectual difficulties.

Marshall Art said...


To say that we haven't used "nice" techniques is false. All who have employed harsher techniques have stated it was done only after the subject proved uncooperative. Considering the actions taken by the suspects before capture, and the overall attitude of most everyone, urgency dictated taking off the kid gloves. This is an important distinction. The greater the urgency, the more desperate the actions that must be taken.

It is also false that we consider the suspect less than human, but as they have employed inhumane actions against civilians, that sense of urgency is not only natural, but responsible for those entrusted with the task of keeping us safe.

Marshall Art said...


"My problem with that question, Marty, is that it presupposes that we can take corrupt actions IF the ends are good. But the problem with that is the ends do not justify the means."This is where your sense of morality is totally pulled from your hindquarters.

Suicide is wrong. We are forbidden by God from taking even our own lives. Yet, the soldier who throws himself on a live grenade to protect his comrades has not only committed no sin, but he has shown great love. The end justified the means.

The Hebrews were forbidden to eat the food donated to the priests, yet David took some of that food for himself and his hungry troops. Though he did what was normally forbidden, David was not considered to be sinning for this action. The end justified the means.

It is wrong to kill another human being. If the only way to prevent Dan from being shot to death is to shoot the shooter, I have committed no sin, nor done anything wrong by killing his attacker. The attacker was about to murder, but I only killed. An important distinction recognized both by civil law as well as God's law. The end justified the means.

It is wrong to lie. But if by telling the truth I put people's lives in danger, to lie is neither sinful nor unethical. The end justified the means.

It is wrong to torture. But if I need to inflict pain or suffering or threaten to do so in order to procure information that would save countless lives, my actions are neither sinful nor unethical. The end justified the means, even if it turns out that I was wrong about what I was sure the suspect knew, or if procuring the info failed to save the lives. My intention was for good, and the suspect will heal.

It's completely stupid to suggest that because I "might" be wrong, that then I should step back and HOPE that lives won't be lost when every indication says otherwise. This is key. The harsher techniques won't be used without the conviction that it will serve a greater purpose. The evil is in doing nothing and allowing others to suffer a far greater harm than employing a technique that SIMULATES drowning or employing one that inflicts temporary pain, fear or discomfort. Only a misguided fool would take such a dangerous gamble and consider himself noble. No. That's not right. Only a misguided idiot would do so.

This is not the actions of a fearful person, but the actions of one who is concerned for the lives that could very well be lost. They are the actions of one who has assessed the situation and as well as the character of the suspect being interrogated and acted accordingly. It's NOT living in fear. What your position is is living with your head impacted firmly in a dark, smelly place. And worse, it's false goodness based on appearances rather than substance.

Jim said...

"All who have employed harsher techniques have stated it was done only after the subject proved uncooperative."

I don't know who these "all" are, but this is simply NOT TRUE. "Harsher techniques" were not used on Zubaydah until after he was already cooperating.

From the previously-posted op-ed by FBI agent ALI SOUFAN:

"It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.

"We discovered, for example, that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Abu Zubaydah also told us about Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber. This experience fit what I had found throughout my counterterrorism career: traditional interrogation techniques are successful in identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives.

"There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics."

As I said, your assertion is simply NOT TRUE.

Got it? NOT TRUE.

Marshall Art said...


Are you just goofy? We've had this "he said-she said" bit already. What makes your source more credible? Until you can prove my source is crap, it's a wash and frankly irrelevant to the conversation anyway. Here's my "he said" to counter your "she said". Here's the memo to which the article refers. Dan will note that it lays out the exact circumstances under which enhanced techniques can be used and the lengths to which they go to insure the suspect's safety. Totally moral considering all of that. In any case, Jim, we have two sources with conflicting stories, and as I said, neither is relevant to the discussion of what should be allowed in certain circumstances and the wisdom of telling our enemies what they need to know to prepare themselves in case of capture.