feet to the fire

Perhaps a more appropriate title for this post would be "hot stinging liquid ... poured into open wounds on [the] penis".

The Obama administration has had its first opportunity to make good on promises to review use of the (bullshit) state secrets privilege as cover for the use of torture. And failed miserably.

This continuation of Bush policy is perhaps most disconcerting because the stakes for the government here are, in relative terms, pretty damn low. The suit in question is actually against Boeing for providing air transport for extraordinary rendition of a suspect (against whom charges have been dropped) who reports being tortured. The fact that torture has occurred under the aegis of the United States government in the last decade is already a matter of public record, pretty much beyond dispute. All this represents is a naked attempt to deny a man his day in court to seek restitution for what was done to him illegally.

Mr. Obama campaigned on a lot of pretty promises about restoring our moral standing in the world. This a spectacular departure from those promises.

A country that behaves no better than its enemies is not worth defending, regardless of who's in charge of it.


Gino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gino said...

torture smorture.

i really dont care if info about terrorism was aquired through torture or not. what matters is getting accurate info, and since i am not in that business, i'll leave the means of extraction up to the experts.

but your last statement needs some clarifying, because from this vantage point, it appears to be spoken through an ass.

i would say, we need to needlessly torture women and children just for the crime of being related to a political critic, and do it over a thousand times, before it can be said we are no better than our enemies in iraq.
and even more still would have to be done to equal the al quaida enemies.

whether you agree with who/what/why we are currently fighting, you have to admit, those guys have already set the brutality bar pretty high.

(and if you kept your support for ron paul, instead of joining obamamania, you'd have no regrets right now. :) )

Brian said...

I don't have any regrets, except giving money to Ron Paul.

And I really don't think my last statement requires further interpretation. Causing another human being physical pain in cold blood puts you well into the sub-human piece of shit camp.

As I said, we're supposed to be better.

Gino said...

"causing another human being pain 'in cold blood'"
what the hell does that mean?

didnt your daddy ever spank you?

if you have proof that there is a policy to torture just for fun and thrills, produce it.

but, if i'm going to board a plane, and there might be a bomb on it, and if shoving a hot poker up ali's ass is going to find where the bomb is, then i say do it. and do it yesterday.

when the bad guys are found, and foiled, then we will have demonstrated that yes, we are better. we beat them again, and saved lives.

so tell me: am i in the peice of shit camp?

i'm getting the impression you shirk from self-defense. i'd stay out of birmingham if i were you. they'll tear you up. and i dont think that is better,at all.

Brian said...

"In cold blood" means deliberately and not in the heat of conflict (i.e., in self-defense) and in in this case presumes a very asymmetric power arrangement.

I don't make this (or any other) discussion personal. I think you know that. So don't you make it personal, either, or it will end very fast.

Gino said...

not being personally personal.

my last statement was a fun-hearted rib poke carried over from our disagreement as to the merits of birmingham.

on to topic: i see whatever water-boarding we admit to doing(not torture,to me) as causing no moral problem.
if we are actually torturing for info (it would not surprise me), i still dont have a problem as it would be for defense of our citizens.
now, if we had a policy similar to the cong, in what they did to pow's, i would be ashamed.

(glad to see you survived birmingham, or havent you gone yet?)

Brian said...

See, cranky guys like us probably shouldn't be allowed to talk to each other without the benefits of body language and facial expressions. No harm, no foul.


I leave for Birmingham tomorrow. But seriously, if you took a drive around the town in which I currently live, you'd see that I am more than prepared for the Magic City. Really. As a friend of a friend is fond of saying, "Derm ain't no joke!"

I'm not really interesting in parsing whether waterboarding is torture (though I am inclined to believe Hitchens' firsthand account that it is--BTW read that piece all the way through...he entertains the contrary argument rather fairly.)

More to the point, Mr. Mohamed was not waterboarded. He was "...interrogated and tortured for 18 months. In Morocco his interrogators routinely beat him, sometimes to the point of losing consciousness, and he suffered multiple broken bones. During one incident, Mohamed was cut 20 to 30 times on his genitals. On another occasion, a hot stinging liquid was poured into open wounds on his penis as he was being cut. He was frequently threatened with rape, electrocution and death."

More importantly, he was guilty of nothing more than looking at a website, and a satirical one at that.

This was done in your name and mine to an innocent man. Don't you think he *at least* deserves to have a day in court?

Gino said...

it is the aclu acct, so i do ecpect some bias in favor of terror suspects.
but i doubt this guy was just grabbed without cause. something raised a red flag. the story is silent on that.

that said:
if these tactics are proper tactics for gathering intel,(and i do not know that they are) how can you say they are wrong when you honestly suspect the dude knows something?

i'm not trying to justify what was done to him, no more than i try to justify other collateral damage in wartime. but, collateral damage is going to happen even with the best intentions.

a judge of a nations morality is better measured by what size and scope of certain failings, not just their existence alone.

to say american intel personel(generally soldiers of high discipline) are no better than those who flew the planes or ginsued hosteges on video is way off the mark, if you ask me.

Dave said...

B, how do you know that the state secrets involved are "bullshit"? Perhaps they could reveal the identities of covert operatives? Perhaps they reveal how the suspect was identified, such as the ability to monitor certain comms paths etc.

At first, It thought that B's libertarian foundation motivates him to view the government as a greater potential threat to the american public than most terrorist threats. That's a defensible argument - I certainly am no fan of GWB's assertion that he could unilaterally detail US citizens located in the US indefinitely. But B closes his comment by asserting that he opposes torture on a moral basis. This surprised me because I would have thought that B believed that states have a unilateral right to self-defense. In fact, I would argue that the US government not only has the right but the obligation to self-defense and that obligation should allow it some leeway against legal action by non-US citizens that likely would compromise its self-defense efforts.

BTW, Gino..intel personnel associated with the CIA1. (as opposed to intel officers in the uniformed services) are not soldiers. And that's the point of the torture/rendition/detention argument. International convention requires soldiers to meet a three-point test (this is straight from the geneva convention) 1. That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; 2. That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance 3. That of carrying arms openly 4. That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. Intel operatives (a nice way of saying spy) do not meet these requirements. When they are captured during a conflict, they do not receive POW protected status - instead they are typically executed. Just like spies, terrorists wage war against the US outside of the requirements of the law of armed conflict. If spies can be executed, certainly illegal combatants like this guy can be transported to some other country or even tortured in order to further the legitimate defensive war aims of the United States. And even if you don't approved of torture, it would seem obvious that the US can avoid being sued by the guy in federal court, especially if that court action potentially exposed the US to *more* terrorist actions.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that non-US citizens outside of the US do not have constitutional rights. The US government has (and rightfully so) broad latitudes to do whatever is required to protect the US. The obligation of the US government is to the people of the US...and no one else. So I'm perfectly okay with the US government using techniques of foreigners that would not be appropriate for US citizens.

Brian said...

Thanks for the extensive and well-informed comment Dave...I don't have time to address all of it (traveling), but I will say that you are correct: I view the government as a more proximate threat to my freedom than any terrorist AND oppose torture on moral grounds.

BTW--I meant that the that the privilege asserted by the Bush administration (and affirmed by the Obama administrtation) is bullshit, not necessarily the purported secrets. Background on that here. (Cato, this time, not the ACLU.)