July 25, 2008


New torture memo from 2002 is disclosed: Interrogators would be on safe ground if they had an 'honest belief' that suspects would suffer no 'prolonged mental harm,' the Justice Department told the CIA. (LA Times, July 25, 2008)

The Justice Department in 2002 told the CIA that its interrogators would be safe from prosecution for violations of anti-torture laws if they believed "in good faith" that harsh techniques used to break prisoners' will would not cause "prolonged mental harm."

That heavily censored memo -- obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, which released it Thursday -- approved the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques method by method, but warned that if the circumstances changed, interrogators could run afoul of anti-torture laws.

"Although an honest belief need not be reasonable, such a belief is easier to establish where there is a reasonable basis for it," said the memo, dated Aug. 1, 2002, and signed by then-Assistant Atty. Gen. Jay Bybee, the Washington Post reported.

The memo was issued the same day he wrote a memo for then-White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales defining torture as "extreme acts" causing pain akin to death or organ failure.

...that a procedure Chrisatopher Hitchens underwent just for yucks was torture?

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 25, 2008 6:57 AM

Did the Nurmeberg trials not clearly state that this kind of behavior iw ilegal?
The former leaders of Hitler's Third Reich on trial in Nuremberg, Germany. The Nuremberg trial was conducted by a joint United States-British-French-Soviet military tribunal, with each nation supplying two judges. The four counts in the indictment were: Count 1 - CONSPIRACY to commit crimes alleged in the next three counts. Count 2 - CRIMES AGAINST PEACE including planning, preparing, starting, or waging aggressive war. Count 3 - WAR CRIMES including violations of laws or customs of war. Count 4 - CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY including murder, extermination, enslavement, persecution on political or racial grounds, involuntary deportment, and inhumane acts against civilian populations.

The majority of the defendants claimed they were unknowing pawns of Adolf Hitler or were simply following orders. Evidence used against the defendants included Nazi propaganda films and extensive Nazi paperwork documenting mass murder and other crimes. Also shown were films taken by the Allies after the liberation of extermination camps. Evidence in the court room included the shrunken head of a concentration camp inmate and tattooed human skin from concentration camp inmates used to make lampshades and other household articles.

It clear to me that people in our nations capital need to be held responsibile for what is going on, not only at GITMO, but the other dark places around the world and on prison ships, according to what the Nuremberg Trials, gitmo is pretty much the same as went on in Germany during World War Two. Am I incorrect in that outlook

Posted by: james at July 25, 2008 8:51 AM

No, the Nuremberg trials established that the victor can hold the loser accountable for war crimes. No one was charged with waterboarding.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2008 10:02 AM

"just for yucks"?!?!?!

Did you actually read his article in Vanity Fair? (see http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/08/hitchens200808?printable=true¤tPage=all).

If you did, apparently you didn't notice that it is titled "Believe Me, It's Torture". Here are some quotes from the article to enlighten you as to the nature of water boarding:

I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. ... Steeling myself to remember what it had been like last time, and to learn from the previous panic attack, I fought down the first, and some of the second, wave of nausea and terror but soon found that I was an abject prisoner of my gag reflex. ...and if I do anything that makes me short of breath I find myself clawing at the air with a horrible sensation of smothering and claustrophobia. ...I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.

Posted by: andyet at July 25, 2008 10:16 AM

When I read the Army Hummit of recent vintage, there was a section devoted to The Genava Conventation, agreeing to not torture prisoners or "detainees" and that torture is strictly forbidden according to the Arm Field manaul or The Hummit.
Since this was planned at the highest levels and done on orders from the highest level, is it not logical that those orders were handed down, by the very people who have every reason to know that the orders the wrote was in fact a crime in and of itself?
Count 1 - CONSPIRACY to commit crimes alleged in the next three counts.
Waterboarding or water torturing prisoners has aways been against the laws of the USA.
Still is, based on information that is widely available.
So since that torture is ilegal, which would include waterboarding, as stated by both Bush and Cheny several times.
That said, ignorance of the law is not nor never has been a good defense posture.

Posted by: james sexton at July 25, 2008 10:26 AM

OJ - why not cut to the chase and have yourself waterboarded like Hitchens? You can then let us know if you think it's torture or not.

Posted by: andyet at July 25, 2008 10:48 AM

Again, why are we having this discussion? The 3 highest-ranking AQ figures we caught in the months following 9/11 were waterboarded in order to break their resistance to questioning. They immediately began cooperating. No one has been waterboarded since. It really was the "ticking time bomb" scenario. There was no slippery slope. This debate needs to stay connected to what actually happened. The left has no desire to do so, so there's no point in trying to talk to them on this matter anymore.

Posted by: b at July 25, 2008 11:26 AM

OJ was in a fraternity. They do worse to each other during initiation.

Posted by: Bryan at July 25, 2008 11:27 AM

So was I - and no they don't.

Posted by: andyet at July 25, 2008 12:26 PM

Again, why are we having this discussion?

Because OJ brought it up.

Posted by: andyet at July 25, 2008 12:28 PM

This debate needs to stay connected to what actually happened. The left has no desire to do so, so there's no point in trying to talk to them on this matter anymore.

For the Left, this subject has long departed the arena of rationality, and been lodged somewhere in the vicinity of religious dogma. An unarguable truth. They want to criminalize those who disagree with them on this, like so many other subjects, because, like a certain other religion (one that at times seems like their unlikely allies), they believe that if they don't punish unbelievers they will be unable to achieve heaven on earth.

So was I - and no they don't.

Then you missed out on being in a Real Fraternity back in the Good 'Ol Days™ before they were forced to go co-ed and got all wimpy and sissified.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 25, 2008 12:35 PM

FWIW, when the original Hitchens article was published, I think it was OJ that suggested a definition of torture as "something you would not voluntarily submit to and that no one would agree to perform on you".

As for Nuremburg, those on trial were granted substantially less in the way of due process than any Gitmo detainee received from the beginning. Do your own research; you won't believe it 'till you find it out for yourself anyway.

Posted by: Twn at July 25, 2008 12:40 PM

Nobody voluntarily submits to be subjected to the interrogation techniques we know various Muslim extremists use. Many people, including numbers of US military undergoing escape and evasion training, have been waterboarded.

Every time one of these yoobs is soaked and writes about, it reinforces that though it's not a technique to be used lightly, it isn't torture.

Posted by: Chris B at July 25, 2008 12:45 PM

Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.

How about having your nails pulled from your fingers, having your genitals electric shocked, having your hands tied behind your back and hung in the ceiling dislocating your shoulders and your feet barely touched the floor, having to watch your loved ones raped and beaten or pushed off the roof of a tall building...?

Posted by: ic at July 25, 2008 1:07 PM

Not in sissy ones.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2008 2:01 PM

If you weren't swirlied at Summer Camp your parents didn't love you enough to send you to a real one....

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2008 2:03 PM

The people who wrote one set of orders for war issued different one for these guys and they can't?

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2008 2:04 PM

At the point where Chris Hitchens gets to write about "steeling himself" yes, it was for yucks. He's a British schoolboy for goodness sake. If yuou hit him with a paddle he'd pay you.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2008 2:06 PM

So who is going to volunteer to have this done them and let us all know for sure if it is torture or not?


Posted by: andyet at July 25, 2008 3:06 PM

andyet: I nominate Christopher Hitchens. If he says "okay, I'll do it", then it's not torture. And... he's done it! Not torture.

Posted by: Just John at July 25, 2008 3:19 PM

Uh... John, Hitchens diod have it done to him and he did call it torture. Kindly read the thread.

Anyway, if waterboarding is no more than a summer camp swirlie or a frat prank, why don't one you guys give it a try, hmmm?

C'mon OJ, you're not going to let an English school boy who likes to get spanked be more of a man than you are? Are you?

Posted by: andyet at July 25, 2008 4:11 PM

By definition, when Hitchens volunteered he showed it wasn't torture. Several other jo0urnos have had it done for fun too.

And it's a routine part of military training. Torture isn't, for obvious reasons.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2008 4:12 PM

You guys miss the point--andyet isn't a reasonable person.

Posted by: Ed at July 25, 2008 5:39 PM

Anyone who has gone through Army basic training has had worse done to them. Namely chemical warefare training. Locked in a small room with a CS grenade and forced to de-mask. Feels like you've snorted burning gasoline, mucus membranes are on fire, asphixiation, vomiting, snot ejects from your nasal passages involuntarily, eyes feel like they are melting. The effects linger for a couple of hours afterward. After reading Hitchen's description of WB, I can honestly say I would take that any day over the gas chamber. No doubt.

Posted by: lebeaux at July 25, 2008 5:58 PM

"when Hitchens volunteered he showed it wasn't torture"

What part of:

"Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture." - Hitchens

don't you understand?

Posted by: andyet at July 25, 2008 8:16 PM

Ed, I'm a very reasonable person.

If waterboarding is soooo much fun, it's only reasonable that I ask you guys to give it a try.

So what's holding you back?

Posted by: andyet at July 25, 2008 8:18 PM

OMG, make this guy stop. How dense can you get?

(Is this the same individual who posts as Daniel et al? Same insanity.)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 25, 2008 8:20 PM

Once more, just 'cuz it's Friday: if someone were to say, "You know, I heard Saddam broke some guy's arm with a sledgehammer to torture him; I'm gonna go see if it's actually torture, someone get a sledgehammer!" then he would either say, "Um, actually, let's not do that, ever" or he wouldn't be able to get anyone to actually do it to him - "Dude, I'm not busting your arm with a sledgehammer. Stop asking." Same thing with assaulting family members, hanging by your arms for hours, being slashed by razors, etc. The reason? All of these are actually torture. Now if someone says, "Okay, instead of that, let's do X" and he's fine with it happening to him, and his friends performing it are fine with it, then it's clearly NOT torturous. Therefore etc. QED.

Posted by: Just John at July 25, 2008 9:16 PM

The part where he volunteered for it. If it were torture he wouldn't have. Nor would he have found someone to administer it.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2008 11:13 PM

We don't get paid to do it. The military guys and reporters who've had it done do.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2008 11:15 PM

There's nothing manly about wanting to be punished. It's very British though.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2008 11:24 PM

He volunteered as part of a jounalistic investigation. He concluded that it certainly was torture, stating so explicity afer he had experienced it. What don't you understand about that?

If it is so much fun and can be done for a yuck, who needs to get paid? Go ahead and enjoy yourselves.

But if it is not torture, how can it be punishment? BTW are the Brits our noble partners in the Angloshpere or are they S&M sissies? You really must make up your mind.

Posted by: andyet at July 26, 2008 7:30 AM

Homey don't roll that way. The Hitch is notoriously confused about his sexuality.

The Brits are good allies in no small part because they get off on that stuff. "Rum, sodomy and the lash"

Punishment isn't torture, or are you suggesting we can't do anything to the ones we catch? A morally moronic position, but the inevitable outgrowth of your vapidity.

Posted by: oj at July 26, 2008 8:51 AM

"are you suggesting we can't do anything to the ones we catch"

Of course not. We can execute them for crimes against humanity and other war crimes - after a fair and open trial - just like we did at Nuremburg.

Come to think of it, we never tortured any of those Nazi bigwigs we captured at the end of the war. I guess it was because we didn't want to act like Nazis ourselves.

Posted by: andyet at July 26, 2008 9:44 AM

So you'd agree to be executed this afternoon but not waterboarded? Because, using the andyet standard, if you wouldn't accept being executed then it's torture.

The Nazis didn't torture captured soldiers for information. Why would we?

Posted by: oj at July 26, 2008 12:11 PM

"So you'd agree to be executed this afternoon but not waterboarded?"

No, that's not what I said at all. They can be executed if found guility in a fair and open trial. Why are you having trouble understanding this?

Nazis tortured partisans, civilians and Russian soldiers all the time (protections given Western soldiers under the Geneva Convention not withstanding). They also tortured and threw into concentration camps the uncooperative civilian leadership of many of their conquered countries.

It was such acts they they were hung at Nuremburg.

Now, are you saying that we should torture al-qaeda partisans like the Nazis? Or are you claiming the status of legal soldiers for al-qaeda operatives?

Posted by: andyet at July 26, 2008 1:26 PM

Yes, that's exactly what you said, that if you don't want something done to you it's torture.

We don't use torture as a punishment even when someone has been convicted. So despite the fair trial we won't sew up the al Qaedists in a bag with badgers. Nor send them to concentration camps nor starve and gas them.

We will interrogate them when we catch them if we think they have important information as the Nazis did to partisans, though we don't use torture. The Nazis were rather efficiency obsessed and if they'd understood the efficacy of waterboarding they wouldn't have needed to use torture either. But as Darius Rejali notes in Torture and Democracy, it is liberal societies that innovate clean interrogation methods.

Posted by: oj at July 26, 2008 3:35 PM

Was what happened at Abu Ghraib torture?

Is beheading torture?

How about lethal injection?

What about an anechoic chamber (no sound), being suspended in water, with no sensation at all? Or 36 hours of the Bay City Rollers? Or AC/DC?

I didn't see Hitchens volunteering for any of those experiences, not to mention electric drills, forced dentistry, or any other serialized versions of torture.

OJ's use of the word vapidity is excellent. Attacking the US because three AQ boys were waterboarded is like saying that the government cannot legislate against child pornography because someone's right to self-expression might be trampled. Vacuous is probably even a better choice. Or venal, because the refusal to make a moral distinction is exactly that.

And the point about chem. training in the Army is spot on. Hitchens has undoubtedly sniffed tear gas in his career - why didn't he volunteer for the full in the face exposure and then wax poetic about it at such length?

Posted by: ratbert at July 26, 2008 10:52 PM

You all are performing the very neat trick of talking out of both sides of your mouths while moving the goalposts.

If you recall, this all started with OJ's silly claim that Hitchens had WB done to him for yucks. I called him on this, because he obviously never read the article wher Hitchens describes WB as torture pure and simple.

Now he has been through the process, none of you have. That alone gives his opinion far more weight. And proves he has the bigger stones.

Why you haven't reid it is beyond me, since you all discribe it as "fun". Well, says I, if it is so much fun why don't you try it. Apparently there is only so much fun you guys have the courage to try.

The comparisons with combat training are beyond silly. As Hitchens mentions in the article (did any of you actually read it?!?!), there is a world of difference between a known training exercise and a surprise interrogation technique.

Oj gets his facts wrong about who the Nazis torutred, dodges my responses,gets caught with his hand in a bigoted stereotype concerning the British, etc., etc. etc.

I gues the bottom line for me is that we should live in the USA a place governed by laws, not men. Not some godawful place like the PRC:


And as a Christian, I have to oppose torture for the sake of my own soul.

Posted by: andyet at July 27, 2008 7:07 AM

I think you'll find the problem is just your credulousness. It's too late for Hitchens to claim it's torture once he's volunteered for it. And, as you concede, it's a normal training technique for our security forces. It's unpleasant--unless you have odd sexual proclivities--not torturous.

Yes, the Nazi tortured terrorists where they were the sovereign authority by traditional definitions. We don't. But that's a function of aesthetics, not morality.

Christ used torture when it served His ends. We don't whip al Qaedists.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2008 9:15 AM

If Christianity teaches us anything, it's that sort of monstrous selfishness where you'd rather others die because you feel squeamish about interrogation techniques is the ultimate evil, but it's the self-absorption common to your ilk.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2008 1:26 PM
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