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Old 10-27-2005, 10:12 AM   #1
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Torture formalized procedure?

Vice President for Torture

Washington Post Editorial

10/26/05 "Washington Post" -- -- VICE PRESIDENT Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans. "Cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States. The State Department annually issues a report criticizing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. In other words, this vice president has become an open advocate of torture.

His position is not just some abstract defense of presidential power. The CIA is holding an unknown number of prisoners in secret detention centers abroad. In violation of the Geneva Conventions, it has refused to register those detainees with the International Red Cross or to allow visits by its inspectors. Its prisoners have "disappeared," like the victims of some dictatorships. The Justice Department and the White House are known to have approved harsh interrogation techniques for some of these people, including "waterboarding," or simulated drowning; mock execution; and the deliberate withholding of pain medication. CIA personnel have been implicated in the deaths during interrogation of at least four Afghan and Iraqi detainees. Official investigations have indicated that some aberrant practices by Army personnel in Iraq originated with the CIA. Yet no CIA personnel have been held accountable for this record, and there has never been a public report on the agency's performance.

It's not surprising that Mr. Cheney would be at the forefront of an attempt to ratify and legalize this shameful record. The vice president has been a prime mover behind the Bush administration's decision to violate the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and to break with decades of past practice by the U.S. military. These decisions at the top have led to hundreds of documented cases of abuse, torture and homicide in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Cheney's counsel, David S. Addington, was reportedly one of the principal authors of a legal memo justifying the torture of suspects. This summer Mr. Cheney told several Republican senators that President Bush would veto the annual defense spending bill if it contained language prohibiting the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by any U.S. personnel.

The senators ignored Mr. Cheney's threats, and the amendment, sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), passed this month by a vote of 90 to 9. So now Mr. Cheney is trying to persuade members of a House-Senate conference committee to adopt language that would not just nullify the McCain amendment but would formally adopt cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as a legal instrument of U.S. policy. The Senate's earlier vote suggests that it will not allow such a betrayal of American values. As for Mr. Cheney: He will be remembered as the vice president who campaigned for torture.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Don't they have enough problems?
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Old 10-27-2005, 10:23 AM   #2
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I think having a formal structure, paper trail and judicial oversight for torture is the least bad way of handling this dilemma. From a utilitarian perspective is it wrong to cause a guilty individual a breif intense pain that they may stop at any moment by surrendering information in order to say a life? ten lives? a hundred lives?

Having formal legal procedure, independent oversight and accountability is by far a better system for the very rare cases when it would need to be applied than leaving it to the discrecion of law enforcement in secret.
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Old 10-27-2005, 10:28 AM   #3
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Good for McCain, phooey on Cheney for promoting this shameful stuff.
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Old 10-27-2005, 10:31 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
I think having a formal structure, paper trail and judicial oversight for torture is the least bad way of handling this dilemma. From a utilitarian perspective is it wrong to cause a guilty individual a breif intense pain that they may stop at any moment by surrendering information in order to say a life? ten lives? a hundred lives?

Having formal legal procedure, independent oversight and accountability is by far a better system for the very rare cases when it would need to be applied than leaving it to the discrecion of law enforcement in secret.
I couldn't disagree more and the one person totured thousands saved is an excuse and bullshit. The problem is that it hasn't been rare. It is becoming standard procedure.
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Old 10-27-2005, 10:50 AM   #5
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Therein lies the problem. I understand what you're saying, Wanderer. The difference is that it's NOT just "one guilty person", it's thousands. All over the world. People that have not been proven guilty of anything, but are merely being held on the suspicion of having information.

This is in violation of just about every single human rights treaty there is! Jesus! Will this government stop at nothing? Or is it merely trying to see how low it can actually go? Is this some kind of mindfuck experiment to see just how much America can get away with in a world where it has no equals?

I find it odd that the "liberal media" is not all over this. A VP looking to make torture official. Christ. What next?
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Old 10-27-2005, 11:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
I think having a formal structure, paper trail and judicial oversight for torture is the least bad way of handling this dilemma. From a utilitarian perspective is it wrong to cause a guilty individual a breif intense pain that they may stop at any moment by surrendering information in order to say a life? ten lives? a hundred lives?

Having formal legal procedure, independent oversight and accountability is by far a better system for the very rare cases when it would need to be applied than leaving it to the discrecion of law enforcement in secret.

I'm sure the Soviet Bloc used a similar justification. I mean, any tortures that were carried out in the Soviet Union, they were probably done with a 'formal structure, paper trail' etc. Plus it was all done in the interests of protecting the Communist Comrades from Western Decadence.

I guess the Reds would have argued that from a utilitarian perspective, it was not wrong to cause a guilty individual a brief intense pain to protect the millions of loyal Soviets from treasonable activity.
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Old 10-27-2005, 12:01 PM   #7
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Not to forget the thousands of men and women who incriminated themselves of being a witch when tortured by the Inquisition during the middle age.

Torture is no way to get information, never.
Who will know if the person tortured tells the truth or just says something to get through the punishment.

It makes me sick to read how the government ignores the human rights and the Geneva Conventions and uses such methods to get some information.
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Old 10-27-2005, 01:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
I think having a formal structure, paper trail and judicial oversight for torture is the least bad way of handling this dilemma. From a utilitarian perspective is it wrong to cause a guilty individual a breif intense pain that they may stop at any moment by surrendering information in order to say a life? ten lives? a hundred lives?
people who think like this usually have the cajones to concede that it is possible a "suspected" guilty person may in fact be innocent,

but that would rarely happen and it is a small price to pay for prevent terrorists acts that could kill thousands

considering the “greater good” it is the path the must be chosen.
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Old 10-27-2005, 05:23 PM   #9
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1) torture doesn't get you good information -- it's not utilitarian, it's the lazy man's form of interrogation
2) torture is a great way to guarantee worse treatment of American or other allied military personnel when POWs

torture is an abomination, it perverts and makes a disgrace of all that the United States, and Western Civilization, stand for.

shame on anyone who condones its practice.

of all my reasons to despise the Bushies, this is at the top of the list.

i love how people think Clinton soiled the office of the presidency by getting a blowjob. this, people, is an actual soiling of the office of the presidency.

but, of course, some people think torture is better than sex.

(i would add something about "passion of the christ" but that would be pushing it a bit far)
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Old 10-27-2005, 09:00 PM   #10
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physical torture is never, ever justified.

(on the other hand, I have to say I really don't give a fuck if they flushed a Koran- or any book religioius or otherwise depending on the case- down the toilet. that's not torture.)
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Old 10-27-2005, 10:08 PM   #11
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So you have two answers presented here, firstly the torture brush is swiped across all captured AQ/Taliban/Islamist terrorists who are captured ~ I never argued that case and I think that the cases of abuse and torture that have been deplorable, with one critical exception ~ the water boarding of Khalid Sheik Mohammed when he was captured in order to reveal information quickly after his capture, those very rare cases of having a well known terrorist captured and information being obtained will probably result in torture in any event, I think that having full checks and balances for these rare and unusual circumstances is better than having nothing at all.

Again I must state unequivically that terrorists do not enjoy full Geneva convention rights on the basis that they do not conform to the rules of war, they do not openly carry arms, wear uniforms of identify clearly as a fighting party, fight in a manner that endangers civilians, deliberately target civilians. When American soldiers are captured by AQ they are not granted geneva rights, they are executed in means up to and including decapitation and their bodies may be desecrated; the treatment of US servicemen and women when captured by these groups would not be getting any worse if the top echelons of the Al Qaeda leadership or operatives involved in a plot that had already began had nonleathal, non-scarring pain inflicted upon them.
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Old 10-27-2005, 10:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Again I must state unequivically that terrorists do not enjoy full Geneva convention rights on the basis that they do not conform to the rules of war, they do not openly carry arms, wear uniforms of identify clearly as a fighting party, fight in a manner that endangers civilians, deliberately target civilians. When American soldiers are captured by AQ they are not granted geneva rights, they are executed in means up to and including decapitation and their bodies may be desecrated; the treatment of US servicemen and women when captured by these groups would not be getting any worse if the top echelons of the Al Qaeda leadership or operatives involved in a plot that had already began had nonleathal, non-scarring pain inflicted upon them.


this is an excellent point. but two things going on here.

firstly, the reason why we do not execute AQ members is because we must maintain the moral high ground. we must not stoop to their level in order to win the oft-mentioned "hearts and minds" option -- some might argue that the biggest argument the US has going for it on the Arab Street is not the invasion of Baghdad or the promise of democracy or even coca-cola and Gap jeans and Nicole Kidman movies; it is that the insurgency is proving itself over and over to be a muslim killing machine in a way that no extremist could ever imagine the West and the United States to ever be. in order to prove just how bad our enemies are, we must be that much better than them.

secondly, you are right in that the Geneva Convention's definition of POW does not apply to many if not all of the AQ fighter/terrorists/whatever. however, this does not then mean that they are under the law and not worthy of some kinds of protection. it is immoral and illegal to allow a class of fighter to exist in a legal netherworld with no rights or at least rules whatsoever.

and please consider: Bush is threatening to veto a piece of legislation - the McCain amendment. this would exempt the CIA from the ban on torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners. if bush says we are not abusing detainees as a matter of policy, why would the White House resist the amendment? what will happen is that, officially, the military will no longer abuse detainees, yet the CIA becomes exempt. thus, bush is seeking to legislate the government's permission to torture for the first time.
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Old 10-27-2005, 11:37 PM   #13
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The status quo will just end up being maintained. We'll just keep on shipping off our suspects to our foreign "allies" that have no problem torturing people to death, if need be.

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