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Old 09-21-2006, 03:57 PM   #46
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By Evan Thomas
Newsweek

Updated: 2:00 p.m. ET Sept. 20, 2006

Sept. 20, 2006 - It’s probably not too farfetched to say that what most Americans know about torture comes from watching the TV show “24.” (There is even a Web site called The Jack Bauer Torture Report.) Jack and his comrades and enemies have at various moments on the Fox television program used electrical wires, heart defibrillators, old-fashioned bone breaking and chemical injections to wrest information from their captives. In one episode, Agent Bauer forced a terrorist to watch streaming video—staged—of his child’s execution. The terrorist talked.

But how does it really work? The current debate over torture, specifically President Bush’s efforts to gain congressional approval for certain interrogation techniques, is a confusing morass of stonewalling, half-truths and moral posturing wrapped up in politics and legalisms. The whole truth remains concealed behind a veil of government secrecy. Nonetheless, it is possible to piece together a picture of the how torture is actually used by the United States. And it doesn’t look much like the episodes on “24.”

U.S. officials do not use the word torture to describe their own methods. Instead, American intelligence officials speak of “aggressive interrogation measures,” sometimes euphemistically known as “torture lite.” According to human-rights activists who have consulted with Senate staffers involved in the negotiations, Bush administration officials are trying to redefine the Geneva Conventions, which bans “cruel practices,” to allow seven different procedures: 1) induced hypothermia, 2) long periods of forced standing, 3) sleep deprivation, 4) the “attention grab” (forcefully seizing the suspect’s shirt), 5) the “attention slap,” 6) the “belly slap” and 7) sound and light manipulation. As NEWSWEEK reported this week in its story The Politics of Terror, a harsh technique called “waterboarding,” which induces the sensation of drowning, would be specifically banned.

These procedures, apparently including waterboarding, have been used on several so-called High Value Targets—alleged top Al Qaeda operatives in captivity. Without getting into specifics, President Bush has stated that his administration’s interrogation and detention program has been necessary to foil plots and save lives.

But is that true? In recent interviews with NEWSWEEK reporters, U.S. intelligence officers say they have little—if any—evidence that useful intelligence has been obtained using techniques generally understood to be torture. It is clear, for instance, that Al Qaeda operations chief Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) was subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. His interrogators even threatened, à la Jack Bauer, to go after his family. (KSM reportedly shrugged off the threat to his family—he would meet them in heaven, he said.) KSM did reveal some names and plots. But they haven’t panned out as all that threatening: one such plot was a plan by an Al Qaeda operative to cut down the Brooklyn Bridge—with a blow torch. Intelligence officials could never be sure if KSM was holding back on more serious threats, or just didn’t know of any.


There has long been a split between the FBI, which favors (and has long experience with) slower, more benign interview techniques, like establishing long-term, personal relationships between interrogator and subject. Responsibility for KSM was given to the CIA, which had much less experience with interrogations before 9/11, but was more gung-ho. In the months and years after 9/11, the intelligence community feared a second wave of attacks and wanted quick results.

Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose book, “The One Percent Doctrine,” stands as the most thorough examination of CIA interrogations thus far, paints a very skeptical picture in his depiction of the interrogations of top Al Qaeda officials. Meanwhile, some experts on torture say the debate over acceptable techniques helped create the 2004 scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. In a manner of speaking, Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with the intelligence community’s rules on interrogation. The Abu Ghraib abuses were the work of poorly trained, overwhelmed prison guards. Nonetheless, they were operating in an environment in which it was generally understood that “the gloves were off” when it came to interrogating prisoners. That is the problem with even a limited set of exceptions to an outright ban on torture or “torture lite.” If even some exceptions are made, they can be seen as a license by guards and interrogators. Who is to say that interrogators will stop at a “belly slap” or an “attention grab” if they are permitted to lay hands on the prisoners in a darkened cell? Administration officials have said that “less than five” Al Qaeda officials were subjected to those authorized “aggressive” techniques. But Special Forces soldiers and CIA operatives were roughing up so many prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan that at least a score died.

The Bush administration has tried another approach to end-run critics: farming out torture. For years, American intelligence handed over prisoners to be interrogated by other security services less squeamish about squeezing information out of suspects. These so-called renditions picked up after 9/11. The very first high-ranking Al Qaeda operative captured—Abu Faraj al-Libbi-was first interrogated by the FBI. But when the FBI wanted to use its normal, go-slow methods, the prisoner was turned over to the CIA—who promptly turned him over to the Egyptians. (NEWSWEEK has reported that as al-Libbi was led to a plane routed for Egypt, a CIA operative whispered in his ear that he planned to “f--- your mother”.) Under the no-doubt rough care of the Egyptians, al-Libbi talked of plots and agents. The information was used to make the case for war against Iraq. As recounted in "Hubris," a new book by NEWSWEEK's Michael Isikoff and David Corn, there was only one problem: al-Libbi later recanted, saying that he had lied to stop the torture.
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Old 09-21-2006, 06:19 PM   #47
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By Evan Thomas
Newsweek

In recent interviews with NEWSWEEK reporters, U.S. intelligence officers say they have little—if any—evidence that useful intelligence has been obtained using techniques generally understood to be torture.
Another perspective on this issue from journalist Brian Ross on the O'Reilly Factor last night. An excellent interview you can watch via video stream:

http://www. foxnews .com/oreilly/

It's under 'Today's Features'
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Old 09-21-2006, 06:36 PM   #48
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Originally posted by Bluer White


Another perspective on this issue from journalist Brian Ross on the O'Reilly Factor last night. An excellent interview you can watch via video stream:

http://www. foxnews .com/oreilly/

It's under 'Today's Features'


it's an interesting perspective, and thank you for posting it, but O'Reilly, after doing a fairly decent job interviewing the man, does his best to wrest a single scrap of concession out of Ross to bolster his pro-torture stance. i found Ross quite credible, but he's not saying nearly as much as O'Reilly thinks he is -- he's saying that, it's possible, that waterboarding KSM got information out of him in regards to a possible plot against a tower in Los Angeles. but that's quite blinkered, and it still begs the question as to whether or not this was the only way to get the information, whether the information was credible, and how many other false leads and bad information has been given out by detainees in order to get the CIA to stop the mock execution.

O'Reilly is saying, essentially, that if we can even concede that there's a tiny chance that waterboarding can produce a piece of evidence that might possibly unearth a possible plot at whatever stage of operation (notice no one said anything about how advanced or serious this LA plot was), then the CIA should be free to do this.

the damage to American credibility, American moral high ground, and the requisite withdrawal from the Geneva Convention is not worth such a small possibility. if the terrorists have altered who we are as a people and the values we hold, then they have already won.
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Old 09-21-2006, 06:57 PM   #49
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Originally posted by Irvine511




it's an interesting perspective, and thank you for posting it, but O'Reilly, after doing a fairly decent job interviewing the man, does his best to wrest a single scrap of concession out of Ross to bolster his pro-torture stance. i found Ross quite credible, but he's not saying nearly as much as O'Reilly thinks he is -- he's saying that, it's possible, that waterboarding KSM got information out of him in regards to a possible plot against a tower in Los Angeles. but that's quite blinkered, and it still begs the question as to whether or not this was the only way to get the information, whether the information was credible, and how many other false leads and bad information has been given out by detainees in order to get the CIA to stop the mock execution.
Actually Ross said on the main guy, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed , the waterboarding led to very important and accurate information that enabled authoritoes to stop the. Yes, he did say the waterboarding is what did it; they tried many other things first, in fact they even told him they would kill his family - he didn't give up any info as a result of that. But after 2.5 minutes of waterboarding, he sang like a bird.

Ross said that all 14 people who had been waterboarded had given up information.

Hre also said that these coercive tactics have resulted in the thwarting of more than a dozen Al Qaeda murder plots. Ross said that some had given false information but it did seem to work on several people who were without a doubt terrorists and, in his words, "that's the bottom line".

And as far as O'Reilly is convcerned, he even asked Ross if there is a possibility that his sources were just using Ross to spread pro-torture propaganda. Ross said that some of the people who told him how effective it is are actually opposed to doing it, but still concede its effectiveness.
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Old 09-21-2006, 07:01 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511

i found Ross quite credible, but he's not saying nearly as much as O'Reilly thinks he is -- he's saying that, it's possible, that waterboarding KSM got information out of him in regards to a possible plot against a tower in Los Angeles. but that's quite blinkered
You're right Irvine, and thanks for watching it. I think that Ross shows that, yes, valuable information can and has been gleaned from from coercive interrogation.

And the Newsweek article shows that often coercive interrogation, or torture as many define it (specifically waterboarding), has some big drawbacks. The debate is how to balance all of this.
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Old 09-22-2006, 12:08 AM   #51
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Republicans Reach Deal on Detainee Bill

By KATE ZERNIKE
The New York Times, Sept. 21


WASHINGTON — The Bush administration and Congressional Republicans reached agreement Thursday on legislation governing the treatment and interrogation of terrorism suspects after weeks of debate that divided Republicans heading into the midterm elections. Under the deal, President Bush dropped his demand that Congress redefine the nation’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions, handing a victory to a group of Republicans, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, whose opposition had created a showdown over a central aspect of the rules for battling terrorism.

The administration’s original stance had run into fierce resistance from former and current military lawyers and Mr. Bush’s former secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They argued, as did Mr. McCain and the other two senators leading the resistance, that any redefinition would invite other nations to alter their obligations and endanger American troops captured abroad.
......................
Members of Congress and administration officials announced the deal after emerging from a tense and intricate all-day meeting in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office in a Senate building, saying they would try to push it through in the five days Congress is scheduled to meet before lawmakers leave to campaign.
......................
The dispute revolved around how to define the rules governing the interrogations of terrorism suspects and providing legal protection to C.I.A. officers conducting interrogations. Under the deal, Congress would seek to codify the limits by outlining in the War Crimes Act, a domestic law, several “grave breaches” of the relevant provision of the Geneva Conventions, known as Common Article 3. The deal would eliminate a legislative provision in the original White House proposal saying that compliance with the Detainee Treatment Act, which Congress passed last year and which bans “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” would by itself satisfy the obligations of the United States under the conventions.
......................................
The agreement says the executive branch is responsible for upholding the nations’ commitment to the Geneva Conventions, leaving it to the president to establish through executive rule any violations for the handling of terrorism suspects that fall short of a “grave breach.” Significantly, Senate aides said, those rules would have to be published in the Federal Register. The agreement provides several pages describing “grave breaches” that would not be allowed, starting with torture and including other forms of assault and mental stress. But it does not lay out specific interrogation techniques that would be prohibited.

The adjustment to the War Crimes Act, “will put the C.I.A. on notice of what they can and can’t do,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who, along with Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, joined Mr. McCain in leading resistance to the White House approach. “It would take off the table things that are not within American values.” Asked about one of the most controversial interrogation techniques, a simulated drowning known as water-boarding, Mr. Graham said, “It is a technique that we need to let the world know we are no longer engaging in.”
....................................
On another point of contention, the use of classified evidence in prosecutions of terror suspects, the senators won agreement that suspects would be allowed to see any evidence the jury sees, which the senators say is in keeping with 200 years of American judicial tradition. But the agreement includes procedures that would strip the evidence of the most sensitive details that lawmakers have worried could be used to plan more attacks. The agreement would not allow any evidence obtained by techniques that violate the Detainee Treatment Act, and would not allow hearsay evidence that the defense successfully argues is not reliable or probative.

The Supreme Court had thrown the issue to Congress in June, when it struck down the tribunals the president established shortly after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, saying they violated constitutional and international law.
....................................
Mr. Frist said he would send the bill to the floor. In the House, Representative Duncan Hunter of California, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he had some concerns about the use of classified evidence, but added, “I think we’re very close.”

Democrats have put their trust in Senators Graham, McCain and Warner to push back against the White House, and Thursday they signaled that they intended to continue cooperating. “Five years after Sept. 11, it is time to make the tough and smart decisions to give the American people the real security they deserve,” said the Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada. Still, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said he would press to change a provision in the proposal that would deny detainees a right to challenge their captivity in court.
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Old 09-22-2006, 06:50 AM   #52
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havent you people ever watched 24? if Jack Bauer never tortured anyone then LA would have been devestated by nerve gas and numerous nuclear attacks, and we all don't want that to happen do we?
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Old 09-22-2006, 09:38 AM   #53
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I knew McCain would cave as soon as Fox News said he would be out of a Presidential run for opposing Bush. Let Bush pet his belly, lapdog.
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Old 09-22-2006, 04:18 PM   #54
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An excellent letter and one I wholeheartedly agree with.


NANCEGREGGS'S JOURNAL: NANCE RANTS
What the President Asked For
Posted by NanceGreggs in General Discussion: Politics
Fri Sep 22nd 2006, 01:04 AM
To:
(the formerly Honorable) John McCain
(the formerly Honorable) John W. Warren
(the formerly honorable) Lindsay Graham:

Sirs:
Words cannot begin to express my grief when I saw Tony Snow’s quote earlier today: “We got what the president asked for.”
Over the past few days, the American people, of both parties, saw a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness that has engulfed our nation. They saw three men, of stature and influence, who had finally shown the backbone necessary to say that when it came to condoning torture, THIS would not stand. Or so, for one bright shining moment, that seemed to be the case.
“We got what the president asked for.” There was a time, which now seems so very distant, that the conduct of our country was not a matter of what ‘the president asked for’, but what the citizenry demanded. Apparently, those days are now, so sadly, gone.
You will all probably admit, in the privacy of your own thoughts, that the hypocrisy of your party has been astounding. You have cried ‘Support the Troops’ from the rooftops, while you quietly stripped them of their pensions and their benefits, while you voted against funding the equipment necessary to keep them safe. You questioned the loyalty of others in respect of our fighting men and women, never demanding answers from the war profiteers who have pocketed the lion’s share of the money meant for their benefit.
You have flaunted your alleged sense of justice, while allowing political and financial corruption to run rampant among your colleagues. You have hidden your sins of avarice, arrogance and the gluttony of political power behind the mask of feigned adherence to Christian belief.
You have accused your fellow elected officials on the other side of the aisle of being spineless appeasers, while you kow-tow to every whim of this occupant of the White House, regardless of the obvious detrimental consequences to our democracy and our standing in the world.
“We got what the president asked for.” It should not have come as a surprise. When was the last time – indeed, the singular time – that this president’s demands were not met? When was there a moment in the past six years of signing statements, the unlawful usurping of powers, the unconstitutional transference of oversight of our government into his hands of those of his administration, that even one of you or your fellow Republicans stood up and uttered the single word ‘no’?
I honestly believed – very naively, it would appear – that on this one all-important issue, the repercussions of which will define our nation like no other in our history, any one of you would have finally displayed the patriotism that you are so quick to accuse others of being bereft of. But I was wrong.
I realize that appealing to your sense of decency is now a moot point, as your lack thereof has now been so blatantly exposed. But I would, this one last time, attempt to appeal to whatever modicum of humanity you have left, and request the following:
Please do not appear in public wearing American flag pins in your lapels, or agree to being photographed in-frame with a flag nor any other symbol associated with the United States of America. Please refrain from identifying yourselves as citizens of my beloved country. You no longer represent our once-lofty ideals, but instead the inhumane fanaticism of those of lesser moral fiber.
Please defer from speaking on behalf of my fellow citizens, especially those in uniform who you have now potentially rendered to our enemies to be tortured, enemies who need no longer fear retribution from we who have now lost the moral standing to object.
While you have sacrificed all other sense of propriety, at least have the decency to dissociate yourselves from the American populace whom you have betrayed.
“We got what the president asked for.” And what the president has asked for is the right to drag a once-proud nation into the cesspool of depravity, the suspension of Constitutional law to do so, and the excuse to be absolved of personal wrongdoing after the fact.
Unfortunately, you were more than happy to acquiesce. Just as you have been happy to acquiesce to every other demand made by this petulant, incompetent maniac whose evil idiocy you revere.
Of course, you do not call it acquiescence. You couch this surrender of your obligations as representatives of our democracy as ‘compromise’, in an obvious attempt to render your own participation in crimes against humanity as something borne of good intentions and reasoned debate.
You call it ‘compromise’, an historically familiar term. Just as good German politicians ‘compromised’ with the Nazis on laws that segregated, minimized, and eventually killed six million people. Just as good German citizens ‘compromised’ by swearing allegiance to a madman in order to protect their own political ambitions. Just as good German Christians ‘compromised’ their own religious morals for a chance to save their own wealth, their own way of life, their own lives. So have you ‘compromised’, and sold your own souls in the bargain.
I realize this has been a lengthy missive. I doubt you have read this far. But that is to be expected in these days, these times. We are all busy people, with little time to spare for what should be important, what should be heeded, what should be said.
You have your priorities that must be attended to, as I have mine. You must get busy convincing your fellow citizens, as well as yourselves, that you have done right by your country and its people.
I, on the other hand, have to prepare for a death in the family. You see, my country, already weakened by the deceit of its leaders, the disillusionment of its people, the despair of its citizens, was dealt a fatal blow today; she was stabbed in the back by three assailants. Chances are she won’t recover.
Suffice to say your attendance at her funeral services will not be welcome, no less required. It would be, you must agree, unseemly for those with blood on their hands to attend.
May God have mercy on the faithful departed, and on those who contributed to her untimely demise.
May God have mercy on those who condone torture, be it overt or in the guise of ‘compromise’.
May God have more mercy than I would – because I would have none.
Yours Without Even the Pretence of Respect,
Nancy Greggs
Citizen of a once Great Nation, the United States of America
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Old 09-22-2006, 09:39 PM   #55
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Awesome post.
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Old 09-23-2006, 07:28 AM   #56
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I have a question for you, and I do not mean this in a "jerky" way. How do you know that it's highly unlikely? Do you or have you ever worked in any field that would give you this kind of experience? Have you delat with "spy" work?
I concede I don't KNOW that it's highly unlikely. I'm just using reason to suggest that it's unlikely that the Hollywood-style we know the bomb is out there, we just don't know where, and the minutes are ticking by scenario really happens that often. I realize that may not be the strongest place from which to argue. So yeah, I could be wrong.


Quote:
Originally posted by 80sU2isBest


I didn't say it happens every day.
I know you didn't. But it's often implied by others making the case for torture.

Quote:
Originally posted by 80sU2isBest


Again, do you or have you ever worked in any field that would give you this kind of experience? Have you dealt with "spy" work?
I suppose it would only be fair to ask, though. Do you?






Quote:
Originally posted by 80sU2isBest


In this political climate, I really don't think so.
Really? Because the Administration hasn't been shy about trying to get expanded rules of interrogation, this political climate notwithstanding. It seems like the type of evidence, such as the O'Reilly factor stuff would actually help the presidents case not harm it.
Quote:
Originally posted by 80sU2isBest


In summary, you make some good points, but I still believe that if doing that to someone involved in the planning of a murder will thwart the murder, it should to be done.
You've made some good ones as well. I understand your point of view and I respect it though I continue to disagree. I've always believed that the nature of warfare demands of those involved in the fight some horrible, inhumane duties. There are things that must be done, and the costs are great even when we "win." I'm not convinced that torture or "torture lite" are among those things, but I can see your argument that there might be times when it would be.

Here's an interesting story that might support your point of view. I had the privelage of meeting "Hap" Halloran two years ago when he visited Saipan during the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Saipan. He was a pilot shot down over Tokyo and spent a couple of years I think in a Japanese P.O.W. camp. He's well known for having forgiven his captors (he was tortured there) and even having become close friends with the pilot who shot him down. His message is one of reconciliation and forgiveness of your enemies. And here's the interesting thing. He was asked what he thought about torture as an interrogation method used in this current conflict, considering the horrific tortures he himself had undergone. And you know what he said?

He said, go ahead and torture if that's what's necessary. The Japanese were doing their job in what they did to him and he understood and respeted that. Our soldiers must be free to do their job as well.

I just thought that was kind of interesting.
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Old 09-23-2006, 12:44 PM   #57
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I suppose it would only be fair to ask, though. Do you?
Not anymore. My spy days are over.

Just kidding. Never have been a spy. But then again, I'm not claiming that waterboarding works most of the time. All I'm saying is that as a last resort, I would do it to someone who was planning a murder if it would stop the murder.


Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean

Here's an interesting story that might support your point of view. He said, go ahead and torture if that's what's necessary. The Japanese were doing their job in what they did to him and he understood and respeted that. Our soldiers must be free to do their job as well.
Actually, I don't agree with him. The Japanese interrogators weren't using the torture as a last resort to stop the murder of innocents, so I believe it was wrong.
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Old 09-23-2006, 05:01 PM   #58
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http://www.thenation.com/doc/20061009/moral_compass
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Old 09-23-2006, 05:09 PM   #59
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http://www.thenation.com/doc/20061009/moral_compass
And your point is...
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Old 09-23-2006, 05:12 PM   #60
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And your point is...
Did you read the article?
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