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Bloggingheads 04-22-2009 07:16 PM

A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 

claymisher 04-22-2009 07:23 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Alright!

Wonderment 04-22-2009 08:35 PM

Moving forward on torture prosecutions
 
I am very happy that President Obama changed his mind about "moving forward" and left the door open to the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate torture during the Bush regime.

The argument that we must look forward (and forget Bush) is astoundingly specious and should be summarily rejected.

ALL CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS look backwards. No crime under investigation is happening in the future.

Even in a conspiracy prosecution the illegal overt acts of the crime have occurred in the past.

There may be a problem with a statute of limitations on torture, but that only means that it's imperative to act now before it expires.

The pass-the-buck loop from the hands-on perps to the lawyers to the president and high-level cabinet officials is, as Josh suggests, designed to impede prosecution. You can't convict John Yoo for "merely" expressing an opinion; you can't convict Bush for following the advice of his attorneys.

What needs to be demonstrated is that Bush and Yoo (among others) are a criminal co-conspirators.

Let's say Bush wanted to kill a political rival like his brother Jeb or Hillary Clinton. He calls his lawyer and asks him how can I legally eliminate this person. Answer from a sane lawyer: "You can't. Murder is illegal, even for the president." Answer from a criminal lawyer: "Well, we can argue that in time of war the President must have sweeping powers which include the arrest, detention and elimination of anyone deemed to be a national security threat or cause a disruption of the office of the presidency. If you can make a case that Jeb or Hillary would screw up the war on terror, you're authorized to kill them."

Such a scenario would be so outrageous that we'd arrest the president and his lawyer without a second's hesitation.

There's really no difference with the torture issue.

apple 04-23-2009 03:35 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Two of my favorite BH's!

bjkeefe 04-23-2009 04:01 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by apple (Post 111242)
Two of my favorite BH's!

Mine, too, but this diavlog just didn't do it for me this time. I was looking for less of a philosophical bent on the torture issue, I guess.

Bloggin' Noggin 04-23-2009 07:40 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Beautifully put, Josh!
http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/192...5:00&out=15:29

Someone at TNR seems to have it in for Rawls. A year or more ago they published a similar criticism by some woman, who I think actually taught philosophy somewhere.
Josh is very kind about Galston's article, but I have to say I thought both Galston and whatsername earlier just seemed not to have read Rawls (or perhaps I should say that they seemed not to have read any of the secondary literature sympathetic to Rawls. They raise criticisms that were raised long ago and responded to long ago as though they were fresh criticisms and as though they were unanswerable. This should be more embarrassing for the supposed philosopher than for Galston.
So far Josh is doing an excellent job of responding to G's criticisms.
I'm delighted to hear Rawls discussed on BHtv -- and even more delighted that he's being so well defended.

This would have been a great opportunity to introduce Thomas Nagel to BHtv. I'm sorry that opportunity seems to have been missed, but barring that, quite happy to see Mark here.
Josh -- any chance Nagel can be induced to chat with you on BHtv one of these days?

DoctorMoney 04-23-2009 10:44 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Thanks to Cohen and Schmitt. This was very interesting and enjoyable.

BornAgainDemocrat 04-23-2009 10:59 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
I've always admired Rawls, especially his concept of the veil of ignorance. However, his difference principle is another matter. The notion that only those inequalities are justified which make "the least well-off" better off tends to ignore the welfare of those in the middle, and has had, I think, a pernicious influence on social policy over the past 40 years. Our elites have devoted so much attention to the poor in our society that they have largely overlooked the great middle-class, and it shows. A better definition of the difference principle would be that only those inequalities are justified which make everyone better off than they otherwise would have been. This gets back to the old idea of the greatest happiness of the greatest number and concepts of the declining marginal utility of income.

BTW, without attempting to prove it, a system of universal wage subsidies financed by a graduated consumption tax is the best -- maybe the only -- way to realize this revised version of the difference principle. Forget minimum wages, Medicaid, and most of the other programs aimed specifically at the poor, which end up being a cover for the growing class divide.

bhf 04-23-2009 11:51 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Me too! I really enjoyed this, especially the conversation about Rawls, which was fascinating. In fact, it leads me to a make a meta-comment about Joshua Cohen's diavlogs:

While this is perhaps obvious in retrospect, I've noticed that Joshua is really at his best when he is able to make extended and exploratory arguments. While I really enjoy his conversations with Glenn Loury for other reasons, Glenn sometimes gets a little frustrated and reigns Joshua in -- back to "practical issues" or pragmatic distinctions -- where Joshua's expertise is less distinctive. Joshua is really great at using abstract theory to explore and explain phenomena. How many diavloggers can relate the Fundamental Attribution Error to current political problems? :)

So my recommendation would be: let Cohen be Cohen. Find other people (like Mark) who let him talk like the professional political philosopher that he is. To suggest a few: Fukuyama, Kleiman, Farrell, Drezner again, maybe cross the generational divide to Ygelsias, or maybe a new political theorist altogether?

(Please don't misunderstand this as a plea to discontinue his genial conversations with Glenn! They are great for other reasons... :) I'm just thinking we could use more real political theory (as opposed to mere politics which we have a lot of) on bloggingheads, and it seems like Cohen is the one to bring us there.

pampl 04-23-2009 11:59 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bloggin' Noggin (Post 111252)
Beautifully put, Josh!
http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/192...5:00&out=15:29

Someone at TNR seems to have it in for Rawls. A year or more ago they published a similar criticism by some woman, who I think actually taught philosophy somewhere.
Josh is very kind about Galston's article, but I have to say I thought both Galston and whatsername earlier just seemed not to have read Rawls (or perhaps I should say that they seemed not to have read any of the secondary literature sympathetic to Rawls. They raise criticisms that were raised long ago and responded to long ago as though they were fresh criticisms and as though they were unanswerable. This should be more embarrassing for the supposed philosopher than for Galston.
So far Josh is doing an excellent job of responding to G's criticisms.
I'm delighted to hear Rawls discussed on BHtv -- and even more delighted that he's being so well defended.

This would have been a great opportunity to introduce Thomas Nagel to BHtv. I'm sorry that opportunity seems to have been missed, but barring that, quite happy to see Mark here.
Josh -- any chance Nagel can be induced to chat with you on BHtv one of these days?

I think Nagel would be really interesting, especially if he's paired with someone willing to bat around philosophy of the mind for a while. Wilkinson would was my first thought but as I understand it Nagel's also a libertarian so the politics part might get boring.

bhf 04-23-2009 12:01 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bloggin' Noggin (Post 111252)
Beautifully put, Josh!
http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/192...5:00&out=15:29

...This would have been a great opportunity to introduce Thomas Nagel to BHtv. I'm sorry that opportunity seems to have been missed, but barring that, quite happy to see Mark here.
Josh -- any chance Nagel can be induced to chat with you on BHtv one of these days?

I second that! Seems we had similar impulses about wanting to hear more about Rawls, etc. (see my comment above). Nagel and Cohen would be the dynamic duo of political theory-diavlogging!

bhf 04-23-2009 12:12 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pampl (Post 111257)
I think Nagel would be really interesting, especially if he's paired with someone willing to bat around philosophy of the mind for a while. Wilkinson would was my first thought but as I understand it Nagel's also a libertarian so the politics part might get boring.

That's a great idea to pair Nagel with Wilkinson, and I can see your point that the "libertarian v. liberal" aspect of a Nagel/Cohen discussion might not be so interesting if it descended to a discussion of politics.

In fact, to generalize: while I can see the value of conservative v. liberal match-ups (especially when its diavlogging about current events politics), there is unrealized value to more philosophical diavlogs where the match-ups share a few basic premises (like 'equality is good'). Sharing a few basic premises allows you to explore the implications more readily. For example, matching Joshua Cohen with someone of a theoretical bent who basically likes Rawls (sounds like you and Bloggin' Noggin would know much better who that would be than me) could be an ideal way to explore his thinking...

nikkibong 04-23-2009 12:19 PM

Achtung!
 
Josh Cohen makes an important disclaimer:

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/192...2:21&out=22:28

nikkibong 04-23-2009 12:26 PM

How could you, Josh?
 
Mark Schmitt accuses Josh Cohen of being complicit in the torture memos!!!

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/192...8:06&out=38:17

nikkibong 04-23-2009 12:37 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Bravo! Now that is a diavlog . . .great to see two deep thinkers matched together. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of Rawls, whom I don't know much about. (Pace Schmitt & Cohen, I'm not sure he's that well-read in post-modernism addled academia.)

More like this, please!

maximus444 04-23-2009 12:41 PM

A Theory of Torture
 
Does anybody really want Bush or officials from his administration to be prosecuted for waterboarding people like Khalid Sheik Mohammed. I'm not for toture but come on, he masterminded the death of 3000 Americans.

popcorn_karate 04-23-2009 12:52 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BornAgainDemocrat (Post 111255)
I've always admired Rawls, especially his concept of the veil of ignorance. However, his difference principle is another matter. The notion that only those inequalities are justified which make "the least well-off" better off tends to ignore the welfare of those in the middle, and has had, I think, a pernicious influence on social policy over the past 40 years. Our elites have devoted so much attention to the poor in our society that they have largely overlooked the great middle-class, and it shows. A better definition of the difference principle would be that only those inequalities are justified which make everyone better off than they otherwise would have been. This gets back to the old idea of the greatest happiness of the greatest number and concepts of the declining marginal utility of income.

I seems that your idea is a bit, impossible? how will a given inequality make everyone better off? isn't the idea that an inequality might have a very small negative effect on some while generating a very large benefit for others? your formulation would make that impossible because that very minor hit to those at the top would not make them "better off", so the inequality would not be permitted.

Quote:

Originally Posted by BornAgainDemocrat (Post 111255)
Our elites have devoted so much attention to the poor in our society

to identifiy this as the problem is truly bizarre to me. over the last 40 years there has been steady drift away from equality towards massive inequality with those in the top 5% seeing the really huge increases.

isn't the problem that too much attention has been paid to making the rich richer?

scapegoating the poor I guess is a nice pastime for both political parties.

Florian 04-23-2009 12:55 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Who would have thought that Rawl's Theory of Justice was really an apologia for Christianity? The meek shall inherit the earth: or may the undeserving successful lend a helping hand to the deserving unsuccessful.

uncle ebeneezer 04-23-2009 02:04 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Yeah, I felt kinda meh about this one as well. I guess I was hoping for a more nuts-and-bolts discussion on torture and the possible course for prosecution investigation. That would be a great discussion for Jack Balkin and Bruce Fein. Maybe even have Mickey put on his lawyer cap and be a part of it.

In keeping with FAE, I will blame Josh and Mark for my lackluster feelings on this diavlog, rather than my own elevated expectations ;-)

Actually, anything with either of these guys is always worth watching.

JonIrenicus 04-23-2009 03:41 PM

Re: Moving forward on torture prosecutions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 111218)
I am very happy that President Obama changed his mind about "moving forward" and left the door open to the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate torture during the Bush regime.


Oh I am certain a great deal of folks like you, Shylock, are enthralled with the idea of getting that pound.

Though I hope for his sake he muzzles his more rabid and frothing supporters on this witch hunt issue.

Wonderment 04-23-2009 03:52 PM

Re: Moving forward on torture prosecutions
 
Quote:

Though I hope for his sake he muzzles his more rabid and frothing supporters on this witch hunt issue.
You tried muzzles before. Didn't work any better than waterboarding.

Wonderment 04-23-2009 03:55 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Na-gel, Na-gel, Na-gel (chanting)....

C'mon, Josh, you can do it. BH deserves it.

Wonderment 04-23-2009 03:58 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture
 
Quote:

Does anybody really want Bush or officials from his administration to be prosecuted for waterboarding people like Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
Yes. Bush and Cheney at a minimum.

JonIrenicus 04-23-2009 04:02 PM

Re: Moving forward on torture prosecutions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 111274)
You tried muzzles before. Didn't work any better than waterboarding.

I am almost certain you could not care less about whether it works or not. People are so tangled about this.

One argument is that it is torture, and that we should not torture, ever. (1)

Another argument is that whatever it is, it does not work. (2)



Even IF (2) was shown to be false, that would NOT mean you would tolerate it. Correct? Because what sustains your opposition, is in fact your deeper opposition, the first objection.

Wonderment 04-23-2009 04:07 PM

Re: Moving forward on torture prosecutions
 
Quote:

I am almost certain you could not care less about whether it works or not.
Correct.

In fact, I'm willing to concede that it sometimes works. I'm sure, for example, torture would work on me if the Gestapo came into my home and demanded to know where I hid the family jewels. I would give it up before they even pulled out my first fingernail.

JonIrenicus 04-23-2009 04:15 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by maximus444 (Post 111267)
Does anybody really want Bush or officials from his administration to be prosecuted for waterboarding people like Khalid Sheik Mohammed. I'm not for toture but come on, he masterminded the death of 3000 Americans.

I don't, but we are a minority on this I think, I do not like extending the same rights I would grant you are I to murderers and thugs and practitioners of actual torture and execution style butchery.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_Shaikh_Mohammed

The guy that sawed off the head of Daniel Pearl, is a butcher, and if getting information to save lives were possible, I would condone dipping him in molten lava.

His "human rights" were in my mind forfeit when he began promoting murder and butchery.

I do NOT believe all people are basically equal, deserve or should be granted the same rights. And I while I am generally against torture, in this kind of extreme case, I let those restrictions slide.


On a larger point, why exactly do we extend EXTRA rights to human beings?

Is it SIMPLY because we are human? And Alive? Why are these same rights not extended to a cockroach? Because it cannot feel in the same way? Is not as sentient? What if it was? What if it was but its very fiber of its very beings was set on destroying the lives of other sentient beings, should it still be afforded the same rights?


I reject the ideas of those who say it should. I would afford an alien named ET more rights than a human butcher, because I do NOT believe we get these protections simply because we are human and alive, you have to have some threshold of decency. For those that do not, for those who for all intents and purposes are comical in their destructive nature to other sentient beings, an almost living version of the Balrog, their rights, are forfeit in so far as we have the notion of SAVING the lives of the decent.

popcorn_karate 04-23-2009 04:40 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture
 
who gets to decide to whom we will grant "human rights"?

you are fine with deciding that some people should not be treated like humans, and KSM fits into that category for you. ok. who else? who makes those decisions? is there a possibility that sometimes people making those decisions will have ulterior motives or conflicts of interest? or will make those decisions based on incorrect information?

maybe you should consider the case of a random guy who gets turned over to the U.S. for a bounty because he is described as a "terrorist" by those who want some easy money. should that person be tortured into a false confession?

don't you want to at least know that someone has done things that warrant such treatment before you decide its ok to torture them?

Jyminee 04-23-2009 06:26 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 111281)
I do NOT believe all people are basically equal, deserve or should be granted the same rights. And I while I am generally against torture, in this kind of extreme case, I let those restrictions slide.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
--The Declaration of Independence

If Mullah Omar's boys captured an American soldier, could he torture him? If we later captured Omar's torture squad, could we prosecute them for torture?

Bloggin' Noggin 04-23-2009 07:08 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
I wonder if you are thinking of Robert Nozick (who unfortunately can't do a Bloggingheads, unless the web goes beyond the grave. Nagel is a liberal -- unless he's undergone some kind of radical shift very recently. Nagel has a nice liberal critique of Nozick's libertarian argument in _Anarchy State and Utopia_ called "LIbertarianism without Foundations" -- it's collected in Nagel's book _Other Minds_.

BornAgainDemocrat 04-23-2009 07:42 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Hi Popcorn, I believe the idea is that, in a free economy, some people will make a lot more money than others, especially gifted entrepreneurs. If you redistribute income to create perfect equality you destroy their incentive to enterprise and everyone ends up worse off (because the pie is a lot smaller).

So the idea is to find a formula -- a kind of golden mean -- between too much redistribution and not enough -- something only the democratic political process can accomplish through trial and error (because there is no way to calculate the answer in any abstract, theoretical way).

As for today's working poor, their wages would be subsidized along with everybody else's. The rule applies to all inequalities, not just those at the extreme. Everybody's happiness and well-being are equally important: there are no scapegoats.

As for those who cannot work or are temporarily unemployed -- and so have no wage to subsidize -- they would have to be taken care of more or less as we do today (though even here Medicare for all would be better than Medicaid for only the poorest and no provision for those right above them, and so remain uninsured).

uncle ebeneezer 04-23-2009 10:19 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture
 
Quote:

It was the right decision to release these memos, as we need the truth to come out. This should not be a partisan matter, because it is in our national security interest to regain our position as the world’s foremost defenders of human rights. Just as important, releasing these memos enables us to begin the tricky process of finally bringing these terrorists to justice.

The debate after the release of these memos has centered on whether C.I.A. officials should be prosecuted for their role in harsh interrogation techniques. That would be a mistake. Almost all the agency officials I worked with on these issues were good people who felt as I did about the use of enhanced techniques: it is un-American, ineffective and harmful to our national security.
Who said this? Noam Chomsky? Keith Olberman? Michael Moore? Not quite:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/op...r=2&ref=global

JonIrenicus 04-23-2009 10:27 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jyminee (Post 111287)
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
--The Declaration of Independence

If Mullah Omar's boys captured an American soldier, could he torture him? If we later captured Omar's torture squad, could we prosecute them for torture?

Rights can be taken away, are taken away all the time. I accept this as do you as a necessity for society to function.

Everyone locked up in prison has had their right to freedom taken away, in some cases, their right to life and the pursuit of happiness. In any event, that quote is not in the constitution and does not have the force of LAW, and even IF it was, you misread it.

The view that all men were CREATED equal, is not the same as saying that all men STAY equal.

To the last question, yes he could, and yes we could prosecute them. But then some people will torture people with no restraints or conditions or measure. Not that this makes any sense to most people, I grant that.


They see the agent torturing a known butcher, and torturer himself, in order to SAVE innocent human life as ethically the same as the butcher torturing the innocent.

Clarification (will all the horror it entails for most people):
I do not want us torturing people as a rule, and in general it should be banned. Even against butchers, I do not want it used as a means of vengeance or retribution, THAT, I consider myself above. But the idea that I would give up the chance to save innocent lives for the sake of the Butcher is the place I cannot go.


You see, I place the lives of the decent above the life and comfort of the indecent, and when both are placed on the scales, I side with innocent lives, the notion of protecting the good. The irony of the ethics involved here is that it is not "I" who is being the moral Absolutist. It's those who say it is NEVER ok, NO MATTER WHAT !!!

Such righteous certainty, very, religious, did not know so many had it in them.

Jyminee 04-24-2009 01:06 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 111307)
Rights can be taken away, are taken away all the time. I accept this as do you as a necessity for society to function.

In America, rights can only be taken away with due process. How do you know that everyone we "enhancedly interrogated" was a terrorist? Considering that about 50% of the people who were once in Gitmo have now been released, it's far from a sure thing.

I generally think a sort of "golden rule" should apply here--we should only do something to others if we think it's okay for others to do it to us. Right now North Korea is holding captive two American journalists, and Iran recently "convicted" an American journalist of espionage. How can we argue that these poor people should be treated well and be afforded a fair trial if we do not do the same?

JonIrenicus 04-24-2009 03:30 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jyminee (Post 111315)
In America, rights can only be taken away with due process. How do you know that everyone we "enhancedly interrogated" was a terrorist? Considering that about 50% of the people who were once in Gitmo have now been released, it's far from a sure thing.

I generally think a sort of "golden rule" should apply here--we should only do something to others if we think it's okay for others to do it to us. Right now North Korea is holding captive two American journalists, and Iran recently "convicted" an American journalist of espionage. How can we argue that these poor people should be treated well and be afforded a fair trial if we do not do the same?

As far as I can tell with the released information, this was only used a few times, it was not widespread and pervasive, as it should be, if at all.

Gitmo is not a fair example because that was a break of protocol. No higher ups sanctioned that behavior. It would be like taking the obama administration to task for torture if a squad of US soldiers in Afghanistan went awol and tortured some civilians. In that case, you place the greater onus on the perpetrators.

bjkeefe 04-24-2009 04:37 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 111326)
As far as I can tell with the released information, this was only used a few times, it was not widespread and pervasive, as it should be, if at all.

Gitmo is not a fair example because that was a break of protocol. No higher ups sanctioned that behavior. It would be like taking the obama administration to task for torture if a squad of US soldiers in Afghanistan went awol and tortured some civilians. In that case, you place the greater onus on the perpetrators.

Man, if there was ever someone who ought to download and read the recently released report from the Senate Armed Services Committee, Inquiry Into The Treatment Of Detainees In U.S. Custody, it is you. Here is your PDF link.

If you would like to start with some executive summary level of introductions, may I recommend this and this.

it is now beyond any shadow of a doubt that torture was used widely and repeatedly. Just one example: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. In one month. Whether or not you want to argue that he "deserved it" or that it was "necessary," you cannot pretend it was infrequent.

It is also beyond any shadow of a doubt that what happened at Gitmo (and elsewhere) did not happen in isolation, without direction from higher up. In particular, I direct you to a section of the Senate report titled "Guantanamo Bay as a 'Battle Lab' for New Interrogation Techniques."

Please, have a look at that report.

[Added] As a final piece of evidence in dispute of your claims, I ask you to consider what the party line is among the former Bushies and other usual suspects lately. It is no longer "we don't torture" or "a few bad apples." It is now "torture was necessary/it kept us safe." That, all by itself, is an implicit admission that torture was both used regularly and was approved at the highest levels.

Wonderment 04-24-2009 05:02 AM

Re: A Theory (and history) of Torture
 
Quote:

it is now beyond any shadow of a doubt that torture was used widely and repeatedly. Just one example: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. In one month.
Tip of the iceberg.

A couple of additional notes:

1) There is nothing particularly new that has been revealed over the past few weeks. Just some details. The general picture, including who crafted, orchestrated and authorized torture, has been clear for years now.

2) While the Bush rogues regime conspired to torture at the highest levels, torture is nothing new in the CIA or the military. Torture was taught at the School of the Americas for decades. Torture was used in Vietnam and throughout much of Latin America under CIA and US military supervision. There was outsourcing of torture under Clinton, and Obama has yet to close the door entirely on "extraordinary rendition."

Consult here, for example:

Quote:

American officials were involved in counter-insurgency programs in which they did not prevent their allies, the [ARVN] from using torture during the 1960s to the 1980s. From 1967 to at least 1972, the Central Intelligence Agency coordinated the Phoenix Program, which targeted the infrastructure of the Communist National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam ("Viet Cong"). The program killed 26,000 Viet Cong and captured over 60,000. Critics of the program assert that many of those identified by the program as Viet Cong members were actually civilians, who when captured suffered torture by the South Vietnamese Army, under CIA supervision. American trainers and intelligence coordination officials supported the internal security apparatus of the regimes of South America's southern cone as those regimes carried out kidnappings and torture known as "disappearances" during the 1970s and 1980s, including as part of Operation Condor. Similar support was provided to right-wing governments of Central America, particularly in the 1980s. Numerous participants in these abuses were trained by the US Army School of the Americas. Americans were present as supervisors in the Mariona Prison in San Salvador, El Salvador, well-known for a wide variety of forms of torture.

"The Torture Manuals" was a nickname for seven training manuals which had excerpts declassified to the public on September 20, 1996, by the Pentagon.

One was the 1963 CIA document, KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation which describes interrogation techniques, including, among other things, "coercive counterintelligence interrogation of resistant sources". The CIA techniques involved were used in the CIA's Phoenix Program in South Vietnam. Eventually the CIA’s psychological methods were spread worldwide through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Public Safety program and U.S. Army Mobile Training Teams

Other manuals were prepared by the U.S. military and used between 1987 and 1991 for intelligence training courses at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA). The manuals were also distributed by Special Forces Mobile Training teams to military personnel and intelligence schools in Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Peru.

.... techniques include prolonged constraint, prolonged exertion, extremes of heat, cold, or moisture, deprivation of food or sleep, disrupting routines, solitary confinement, threats of pain, deprivation of sensory stimuli, hypnosis, and use of drugs or placebos.

bjkeefe 04-24-2009 05:45 AM

Re: A Theory (and history) of Torture
 
All agreed, and thanks for chiming in. One minor nitpick.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 111331)
1) There is nothing particularly new that has been revealed over the past few weeks. Just some details. The general picture, including who crafted, orchestrated and authorized torture, has been clear for years now.

As to what well-informed people know, I agree. But I would say that there is something new in the way torture is being talked about in the MSM and by the GOP spinmeisters. It seems, to me anyway, that there is a new tone where pretty much everyone agrees it happened, it happened a lot, and it happened at the direction of the most senior members of the Bush Administration. We have dragged the Overton Window so that part of it covers reality, in other words. It's not just acquiring some more details. What we now have is a general confirmation of the main questions. The plea from the Bushies has been changed to "guilty, with extenuating circumstances." That seems new.

It's sort of analogous to the evolution of the discussion over AGW -- for a long time past when it was reasonable to do so, the MSM treated it as a matter still up in the air, with either side being just as likely to be correct, and acted as though the numbers of adherents to the two points of view were also roughly similar. Now, it's pretty much a starting point for any mainstream discussion that AGW is real, and the questions and discussions start with that as given.

Just as there are a few deadenders in the AGW context who still insist "we don't even know if it's happening, or if it is, if it's man-made," there are a few who will continue to insist that either it wasn't torture, it didn't happen that much, or it was only the proverbial few bad apples. But, as with the AGW "skeptics," the torture denialists are now being seen pretty much as cranks. And, unless I'm not very well-plugged in, that seems new to me, speaking as an amateur media critic.

DoctorMoney 04-24-2009 10:24 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture (Joshua Cohen & Mark Schmitt)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BornAgainDemocrat (Post 111255)
Our elites have devoted so much attention to the poor in our society that they have largely overlooked the great middle-class, and it shows.

BAD, you seem to be describing an America I am utterly unfamiliar with here.

JonIrenicus 04-24-2009 11:47 AM

Re: A Theory of Torture
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 111330)
Man, if there was ever someone who ought to download and read the recently released report from the Senate Armed Services Committee, Inquiry Into The Treatment Of Detainees In U.S. Custody, it is you. Here is your PDF link.

If you would like to start with some executive summary level of introductions, may I recommend this and this.

it is now beyond any shadow of a doubt that torture was used widely and repeatedly. Just one example: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. In one month. Whether or not you want to argue that he "deserved it" or that it was "necessary," you cannot pretend it was infrequent.

It is also beyond any shadow of a doubt that what happened at Gitmo (and elsewhere) did not happen in isolation, without direction from higher up. In particular, I direct you to a section of the Senate report titled "Guantanamo Bay as a 'Battle Lab' for New Interrogation Techniques."

Please, have a look at that report.

[Added] As a final piece of evidence in dispute of your claims, I ask you to consider what the party line is among the former Bushies and other usual suspects lately. It is no longer "we don't torture" or "a few bad apples." It is now "torture was necessary/it kept us safe." That, all by itself, is an implicit admission that torture was both used regularly and was approved at the highest levels.

I misspoke, I knew about the 180+ water boarding number on Khalid, I meant that that was only used on a few people, not some pervasive blanket waterboarding torture mill.

bjkeefe 04-24-2009 12:25 PM

Re: A Theory of Torture
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 111348)
I misspoke, I knew about the 180+ water boarding number on Khalid, I meant that that was only used on a few people, not some pervasive blanket waterboarding torture mill.

Your self-correction is noted, but I still think you should read the report (PDF), or at least skim it, or at bare minimum read the conclusions,* because you're still grotesquely understating the extent of the problem.

And it was far from just waterboarding, too.

And let's also keep in mind to what twisted ends this program of torture came to be applied.

==========
* You might be put off by the disclaimer about the "rush job" in the post with the conclusions. Don't be. The only errors in what's posted there are the usual annoyances one gets by copying and pasting from a PDF file -- some spaces between words are left out, maybe a piece of punctuation is dropped. You can of course confirm this by looking at the original source.


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