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  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Waterboarding, Just water boarding

    From the Hot Air blog - Video: Steve Harrigan Gets Waterboarded on Fox.

    He could barely get through his report, so shattered was he by the experience. By the end of the segment he’s reduced to sobbing and pointing to a copy of “The Conservative Soul” that he’s held up to the camera..
    From Wretchard at the Belmont Club - Waterboarding at Fox.

    ... Nobody even admits to waterboarding, though the individuals depicted on the video apparently know a lot about it. But assuming somebody did this kind of stuff would you never approve it if you had reason to think the interrogation would save lives? Here are a variety of answers whose logical flaws are interesting to pick out. Readers, start your brain cells!

    1. "It's wrong period". Even if waterboarding could save a thousand lives legitimizing the practice is unmistakably evil. We make something bad into a licit act and one day these practices will be used against American citizens on the grounds that it is useful.
    2. "What's the difference?" We accept the use of force to subdue suspects, often injuring them in the process. We even subject US soldiers to this waterboarding experience to train them against hostile interrogation. A prisoner will likely suffer far more injury being taken prisoner than being waterboarded, if Harrigan is correct. Since violence is part of social life, as an established fact, why should this not very injurious practice be unreasonably excluded just because someone calls it torture?
    3. "Let the market decide". If I were a father whose child were kidnapped I would voluntarily submit to Harrigan's experience to win the release of my son. I would be willing to exchange the stress of waterboarding for the life of the hostage. Why should the malefactor, if found, be exempt if I the parent would not exempt myself? And come to that, when I send a police officer after a malefactor, am I not asking him to assume a risk far greater than the consequences of waterboarding? If I could obtain the location of the victim by using it, thereby saving the victim and ensuring the safety of law enforcement, is that not in fact moral? All suffering is fungible. What we need is to create a mechanism for the rational exchange of preferences.
    4. "You'll never know". Whether you're damning yourself to hell by waterboarding a likely suspect or damning the victims to a painful fate by not saving them from those monsters. But you may have to do something. So look at yourself in the mirror each time and ask: "do you feel lucky today, punk? "
    5. "We'll never have to make this choice" It's too hard. Let's work through the United Nations and engage in dialogue and then if somebody really needs to do it, well I hope they won't tell us.

  2. #2
    Council Member SSG Rock's Avatar
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    Default They call that torture?

    I watched the video, expecting Harrigan to be all shook up after the experience. I didn't see that. He was somewhat distressed during the actual procedure and he gave up pretty quickly, but that sure doesn't fit my personal definition of torture. It's child's play compared to terrorist methods.
    Don't taze me bro!

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    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
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    Since the point of something like that is fear it seems as thought this was not an accurate portal. The reporter knew that he could quit at anytime, he knew the people doing it to him, and he knew they were not interested in killing him. What he doesn’t know is what it would really be like. A report like this does little to increase the publics understanding of the issue; it’s just a ratings grab.

    Not commenting one way or the other about the use of such methods but that report is lousy journalism.

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    Council Member SSG Rock's Avatar
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    Default yeah...

    Thats true.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu-6 View Post
    Since the point of something like that is fear it seems as thought this was not an accurate portal. The reporter knew that he could quit at anytime, he knew the people doing it to him, and he knew they were not interested in killing him. What he doesn’t know is what it would really be like. A report like this does little to increase the publics understanding of the issue; it’s just a ratings grab.

    Not commenting one way or the other about the use of such methods but that report is lousy journalism.

    I agree very much with you.

    BTW, talking about journalism and real life, Brits came out with some documentary movie with the name: Torture: Guantanamo Guidebook. Anyone saw it? I am interested in any opinion. This is description:

    In an inspired melding of investigative journalism and the reality-TV format, Tim Carter's British documentary provides a disturbing demonstration of the conditions and coercive methods used by American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. For four days, seven volunteers agree to submit themselves to techniques believed used at the prison. "The clearest impression yet of what it might be like ... an impeccable exercise in liberal journalism: its revelatory intentions are more serious than many TV news bulletins" — Guardian.

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    Council Member Shivan's Avatar
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    Default Waterboarding: A Tool of Political Gotcha (Bing West)

    A well said piece by West: http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/200...olitical-mane/

    ABC news, FWIW, claims only 3 people have been "waterboarded": http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/...ive-only-.html

    This is indeed a game of "gotcha" by the media, left, etc. If the Democrats in Congress are so opposed to it, they can always legislate, which is their duty anyway.

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    Default well, yeah...

    Perhaps its because I'm a political scientist, but it seems to me more than a little self-evident that the techniques of interrogation (and torture) become politicized, both inside and outside the United States. Complaining about it seems a bit like complaining that it sometimes rains during operations.

    I agree that the Democrats (well, Congress more broadly) have a responsibility to specifically forbid it if they think its an issue--although given that it is already a rather clear violation of IHL, one would have hoped they didn't have to.

    If the technique has been infrequently used, it strengthens rather than weaken the position of critics: the image of US-as-torturer has done serious damage to the US moral position in the GWOT, and (quite apart from the legal, moral, and operational arguments against waterboarding) it does rather seem a rather steep price to pay for a technique possibly used on only three prisoners. I constantly find Abu Ghreib, Gitmo, and waterboarding raised with me in the ME, and frankly I think they are collectively a rather large mobilization and recruiting gift for AQ and various AQ wannabes. Are we forgetting that COIN is, to a large degree, about issues of politics and legitimacy?

    I'm with Malcolm on this one.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default

    Is Bing West saying that waterboarding is okay if we simply watch and benefit from it? Or that it's okay because we've only used it a few times (that we know of --- given the veil of secrecy, how does ABC News or anyone else know?)?

    What exactly is Mr. West's argument? That it doesn't matter much if the U.S. government legalizes the use of torture by its agents, as long as those agents don't use it too much? Doesn't he understand that it may not be used much because it hasn't been accepted as legal practice?

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    Council Member Shivan's Avatar
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    Default maybe not

    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    [waterboarding is] already a rather clear violation of IHL . . .the image of US-as-torturer has done serious damage to the US moral position in the GWOT, and (quite apart from the legal, moral, and operational arguments against waterboarding) it does rather seem a rather steep price to pay for a technique possibly used on only three prisoners. I constantly find Abu Ghreib, Gitmo, and waterboarding raised with me in the ME, and frankly I think they are collectively a rather large mobilization and recruiting gift for AQ and various AQ wannabes.
    If "waterboarding" is that clear a violation of IHL as claimed, then Congress should have legislated it away, no? Have they decided to then ignore our obligations under IHL? Have we even defined "torture" to include "waterboarding"? Rather ipse dixit to call it "torture" if not.

    As for the information war, recall that in the 80s, Reagan et al. were vilified by world media and accompanied by mass protests (and lots of hysteria) in Europe when missiles were deployed. Reagan and Thatcher prevailed. Today, a similar situation exists: whatever the U.S. does, media in the Mid East and elsewhere will vilify, as they currently do. Thus, we have to continue to do that which will protect Americans, until such acts are specifically forbidden by Congress.

    Claiming that this is a boon for AQ recruiting is to buy into propaganda. AQ et al have not had trouble recruiting before or after 9/11, nor in finding grievances, real or imagined, for their propaganda (see, for example, "Inside Al Qaeda" by Gunaratna, and "The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global" by Gerges). The Intel Community needs to be able to use all techniques that are currently legal to do their job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shivan View Post
    (see, for example, "Inside Al Qaeda" by Gunaratna, and "The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global" by Gerges).
    Fawaz (Gerges) is indeed an odd source to cite in support of your argument--I've heard him twice in the last few weeks argue that US detention and interrogation methods have served to swell jihadist ranks, based on his recent field interviews with militants, supporters, and young men hoping to make the trip to Iraq to fight US forces (which, as I noted earlier, is very much my impression too).

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    Council Member Shivan's Avatar
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    Default Gerges

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    Fawaz (Gerges) is indeed an odd source to cite in support of your argument--I've heard him twice in the last few weeks argue that US detention and interrogation methods have served to swell jihadist ranks, based on his recent field interviews with militants, supporters, and young men hoping to make the trip to Iraq to fight US forces (which, as I noted earlier, is very much my impression too).
    Actually reading the book would be helpful. It goes to the point that "AQ et al have not had trouble recruiting before or after 9/11, nor in finding grievances, real or imagined, for their propaganda."

    Gunaratna (and others) have cited numbers as high as 7 million men radicalized and armed (or willing to be armed) to fight in jihad, and drawn from all over the Muslim world. Is that all the fault of Abu Ghraib, interrogation, etc.? Could it be possible Gerge's recent informants you cite are spouting exactly what they want reported?

    I'm not denying that Iraq, Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, etc., are beacons for recruiting, but my point is that such an increase is marginal at best. Take Pakistan & Afghanistan as examples: long before 9/11, there were an estimated 120K armed militant running about. A hypothetical increase to 125K means little given the starting point.

    If, on the other hand, we were talking about 1.2 billion Muslims all of whom were at peace and in love with America, and we suddenly started torturing people and that became a recruitment device, you may have a point.

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Shivan;30157]

    If "waterboarding" is that clear a violation of IHL as claimed, then Congress should have legislated it away, no? Have they decided to then ignore our obligations under IHL? Have we even defined "torture" to include "waterboarding"? Rather ipse dixit to call it "torture" if not.
    It is a violation of international law and Congress has already spoken on this issue. Article 17 of Geneva Convention III specifically states that "no physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever." Now, if you subscribe to the notion that those we have detained in Afghanistan and Iraq are not prisoners of war, then I would direct you to Article 31 of Geneva Convention IV which states "no physical or loral coercion shall be exercised against protected persons, in particular to obtain information from them or from third parties." A protected person is essentially a civilian. Article 3 also states that "torture" is "prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever."

    So, the above covers prisoners of war and civilians (i.e. those not taking part in the fight). However, many supporters of waterboarding argue that those we detain are neither of these (as if there were always some way to immediately tell). I would direct these folks to Protocal I of the Geneva Conventions. This Protocal specifically prohibits "torture of all kinds, whether physical or mental" (Art. 75). This applies to any person that has taken part in hostilities but that has not been granted prisoner of war status (Art .45).

    The Geneva Conventions were ratified by the US Senate on Aug 2, 1955. This means that those Conventions are now US law, on par with the Constitution itself (see US Const., Art VI). The US treats Protocal I as customary international law which essentially means that the US views this as universal and indisputable.

    For those that might take issue with international law, Congress has also spoken on this issue in federal law. Title 18, section 2340A of the United States Code specifically provides for the prosecution of any person that commits or attempts to commit torture. Torture is defined in title 18, section 2340 as:

    1) "torture" means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
    (2) "severe mental pain or suffering" means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from--
    (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
    (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
    (C) the threat of imminent death; or
    (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality.
    The applicability of this provision turns on whether the person is acting under color of law and whether the act (waterboarding in this case) meets the definition of torture provided. Acting under color of law essentially means that the person is acting with some authority from the government. Military personnel, contractors, CIA, etc. would qualify. Reasonable minds may differ as whether waterboarding satisfies the definitional requirements above. There will always be some lawyer that will engage in a Clintonian definitional word game, but one could reasonably conclude that waterboarding satisfies the criteria.

    Another issue to consider, however, even if you subscribe to the notion that waterboarding does not meet this criteria is the effect our acquiescence with regard to this interrogation method has on the public. A few of the previous posts indicates that the Arab world is/was outraged by the Abu Ghraib incident. We attempted to make up for this mistake by prosecuting those responsible. However, if we condone waterboarding, do we not cheapen the judicial process with regard to Abu Ghraib. In other words, although we were genuinely shocked over the treatment our people subjected prisoners to, do we send a different message by condoning waterbaording?
    Last edited by LawVol; 01-31-2008 at 05:10 PM.
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    Many US military training courses during the 1960-70s era included a POW compound exercise where individuals were subjected to "hard" and "soft" cell treatment...US military pilots, the 101st Recondo course, etc.

    Water torture was part of the "hard cell" treatment given to some or all of the students in each class.

    My personal experience involved a medical doctor being present during water torturing...when you pass out or vomit and block the airway, I believe that a doctor is necessary to insure that the person being water tortured is not permanently physically harmed or killed.

    I knew that I would be resuscitated during the water torturing during the POW compound training...yet when regaining consciousness there was always a short time frame when I was disoriented and believed that I was indeed drowning and when subjected to water torturing again under those conditions the experience was perceived as life threatening and I struggled under that perception until I was again unconscious.

    My personal experiences gained in such training...I would not subject a prisoner to water torture/water boarding...and belief that we have the technology to gain the information needed by means that do not constitute torture...

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default SWJ amd Malcom Nance on Waterboarding

    At McClatchy News today..

    Does America (heart) waterboarding?
    By Mark Paul | Moonbats and Wingnuts

    ... “Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period,” agrees terrorism expert Malcolm Nance at Small Wars Journal. “Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that…when done right is controlled death.” Eric Mueller, law professor at the University of North Carolina, cites decisions from Mississippi courts in the 1920s that found waterboarding to be torture, even in a case where it was used on a young black man charged with killing a white man. “If it was torture in Mississippi, then it's definitely torture, right?” Mueller asks?

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    Default Interesting Thought

    Saw this thought on a political blog today, and felt it had some relevance here without getting into political banter...

    With McCain likely to become the Republican nominee versus either Clinton or Obama .... all the remaining canidates are on the record opposing against the use of waterboarding or torture techniques as a policy by the USA, and I believe (not absolutely sure about McCain) most support closing Guantanamo.

    So in effect, waterboarding ceases in Jan 2009, and Gitmo likely closes not long after.

    Interesting development.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Waterboarding ceased three years ago and I wouldn't bet

    the farm on closing Gitmo -- though, in fairness, I don't know anyone who doesn't want to close it; current Admin included. They just can't figure out what to do with the remaining residents...

    Don't know whose idea Gitmo was in the first place but it was a dumb one. I couldn't figure out why they didn't just keep those guys in the 'Stan. Last count I saw, about twelve who'd been released had gone right back to doing what got them picked up in the first place -- and all that have been released were thought to have been unlikely to 'reoffend.'

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default 'Vomiting and screaming' in destroyed waterboarding tapes

    A BBC News report on an item on the Newsnight programme (which I expect is not available in the USA).

    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-17990955

    Secret CIA video tapes of the waterboarding of Osama Bin Laden's suspected jihadist travel arranger Abu Zubaydah show him vomiting and screaming, the BBC has learned. The tapes were destroyed by the head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, Jose Rodriguez. In an exclusive interview for Newsnight, Rodriguez has defended the destruction of the tapes and denied waterboarding and other interrogation techniques amount to torture.
    Abu Buckwheat has a short interview clip and comments:
    Waterboarding is drowning in a slow, controlled manner.
    A curious time for the BBC item as waterboarding and perhaps other interrogation tactics are to the fore in a Guantanamo Bay trial, which I am sure have been covered fully elsewhere.

    (Added here as this is the first clear thread on waterboarding, research found there were no threads with water boarding, although my recollection is that there are other, longer threads concerning interrogation methods and associated debating here).
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-09-2012 at 01:55 PM. Reason: Amending last paragraph
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    Default Domestic Politics

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    A curious time for the BBC item as waterboarding and perhaps other interrogation tactics are to the fore in a Guantanamo Bay trial, which i am sure has been covered fully elsewhere.
    Jose Rodriguez came out with a book the other week, and has been making the usual media rounds. Elements on both sides of the political aisle are also trying to play the bin Laden operation card; ergo the torture-intelligence issue is being rehashed.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Ever curious

    The ever curious intersection of public policy (intelligence gathering for example) and commerce in the book launch mode.

    Reviewing the thread I found a post by Tom Odom, which puts the debate in a different setting:
    Eric Mueller, law professor at the University of North Carolina, cites decisions from Mississippi courts in the 1920s that found waterboarding to be torture, even in a case where it was used on a young black man charged with killing a white man. “If it was torture in Mississippi, then it's definitely torture, right?” Mueller asks?
    davidbfpo

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