View Full Version : Impact on Makasey

11-02-2007, 11:31 PM
A wise gentleman I know made this comment:

I agree completely that waterboarding is way out of line for the holders of the moral high ground but I also think that using it to beat up Makasey is out of line too. He's said clearly that torture is unconstitutional and can't be condoned under any circumstances and then he's asked to officially denounce as a potential attorney general a practice that has no firm definition, particularly a firm legal definition. I think that's a form of litmus test that should be resisted for any cabinet official.

That distinguished between the underlying torture issue and the politics & potential repurcussions of the particular exchange.

We've had a raging discussion over here (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/10/waterboarding-is-torture-perio/)on the SWJ Blog, c/o Malcolm Nance, regarding the underlying torture issue.

What are your thoughts on the latter part of that statement?

Ken White
11-03-2007, 12:47 AM
"...distinguished between the underlying torture issue and the politics & potential repurcussions of the particular exchange."

It is political and it could have repercussions that those who have made it into a political issue do not seem to grasp.

Aside from the basic issue of the use of any specific technique on person detained by the US there is the question of whether or not a given technique should be used by the US on its own personnel in training. If a technique is deemed illegal for use on others, it's only a short step to ban it in training. We have also seen the technique of gradualism applied in many fields, a nibble here and another there and soon, there is nothing left. Unintended consequences can be quite damaging.

Consider also the fact that people differ in conditioning as well as psychologically and physiologically and what is torture to one person can be shrugged off by another. Similarly, harsh interrogation techniques that are not deemed torture can be excruciating to some. I don't want to ever again have to kneel on another broomstick for a few hours... ;)

Sleep deprivation to anyone engaged in ground combat is simply a continuation of the normal. :cool:

I also suggest that excessive espousal of the 'moral high ground' can be a self imposed strait jacket. No sane human espouses torture and we have a Federal Statute that proscribes it and a UCMJ that is effectively even more limiting with respect to maltreatment. They are adequate, should be adhered to and all the rest of this noise on the topic serves little more good than to make some feel good about their personal lack of and condemnation of moral turpitude. Or something...

Our system essentially works. There have been and will be occasional lapses, errors in judgment, rogue operators and misunderstandings that lead to violations. These are generally caught and corrections are made. There is no human proof system of anything and there will always be those who disagree on the lines and details. To insist on drawing unneeded lines publicly essentially for political purposes is counterproductive and IMO makes those making such calls look either a little naive or excessively partisan.

11-03-2007, 05:59 PM
See Bing West's blog entry on the Political Gotcha (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/11/waterboarding-a-political-mane/)aspects.

Best to continue the discussion in this thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=4230). This thread is closed. With that superb last word here from Ken White.