Guest Post: Everything You Need to Know About Torture

Washington’s Blog

Here is a succinct executive summary of everything you know about torture:

Yes, Waterboarding IS Torture

  • Everyone claiming waterboarding is not torture has changed their tune as soon as they were exposed to even a small dose of it themselves. See this, this and this

No, Torture Does NOT Make Us Safer

The Insanity of What Actually Happened

Other Relevant Facts

Should We Prosecute?

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander…


  1. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Humans being social creatures, torture is an economic threat to both perpetrator and victim. Rapidly to the latter, more slowly to the former.

    Got trust? If ‘yes’, then you are laying the groundwork for vibrant economic exchange.*

    (Someone might drop a hint to … oh… nevermind.. Putin probably doesn’t read these blogs, anyway.)

    *A 1998 World Bank Research Division study reported that the strongest predictor of a country’s wealth was the level of trust in the society. However, I don’t have the precise citation. Fukuyama made a similar case in his book “Trust”, in the late 1990s.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      There’s been some interesting research on the neurotransmitter oxytocin and it’s relationship to trust in human behavior. Any interested readers could google ‘oxytocin + trust’ for quick overviews.

      Thanks, George Washington, for the detail and range of your links.

  2. skippy

    Torture is means to modify personalty traits and extract revenge, hell I’d even check the level of sexual arousal present in the applicators (resident NC headshrinker Psychoanalystus what say you).

    1. Paul Repstock

      I have absolutly no doubt that your guess is correct Skippy; distribution logs for the “waterboarding” videos would be very interesting…??

      Further more, while waterboarding is obviously torture, waterboarding the same human being 187 times is outright perversion.

  3. tawal

    Thanks for forever staying on topic GW! The rule of law will not be reinstated in America until Bush and Cheney are publically hanged like Sadam Hussein. Personally I would like to see them sentenced to removing all the depleted uranium from Iraq with their tongues, like Nebuchednezzar; but alas I guess that would be torture, so I’ll accept hanging, although they would probably prefer crucificion with superglue no doubt.

    1. Paul Repstock

      tawal; emotionally I would agree with you. Rationally?? Who can say. The damage is done. The bombs are dropped and the depleted uranium will poison the people of Iraq for generations. What chance has any punishment for adequetly treating these two men for what they did. I really doubt that Cheney gives a damn. And I’m not sure Bush could even understand. An old testament retribution would pass the punishment to their decendants. Would that be fair? To visit these horrors on young people who are personally innocent.

      1. Paul Repstock

        adds…I think it would be much more effective and just, to openly and completely disclose to the voters, the attrocities done in their name.

        The citizens of all the ‘coallition’ countries should be forced to face up to the facts that they have been avoiding.

      2. justme

        I think the purpose of punishment, at this point, would be to deter any future practitioners from taking that course. Bush, Cheney are unrepentant and will never change. Should it finally come to pass that their horrific actions bring them an equally horrific end, perhaps others in the future might be persuaded to abandon the commission of similar crimes, or at least understand that there could be responsibility held and retribution exacted. Otherwise, what we have is the current state of Moral Hazard Writ Large as the law of the land. Once you reach a certain rung on the ladder there is no possibility of being held to account, regardless of the crime. Not a state of affairs to be envied.

        1. Paul Repstock

          Violence begets violence. That is a cycle we see in every part of humanity. Huge parts of the world are economic and cultural wastelands because the cycle, once started is hard to stop. There are atleast 10 countries which should be reasonably wealthy, but a 1000 year old hatred run clear down to bedrock and prevents anything stable from being built.

          1. Nathanael

            Unfortunately, there’s another rule:

            No Justice No Peace

            I’m against torturing Bush and Cheney, but they should be humanely executed as a preventative and deterrent measure.

  4. attempter

    It’s striking how many ways it’s true that if the exact same standards of Nuremburg and the Japanese trials were applied to figures from modern US kleptocracy, hundreds would be indicted and convicted, and several from the Bush and Obama adminstrations would hang. (Unfortunately, Nuremburg didn’t hang any corporate figures, and was lenient about trying them. I’m not sure about Japan, but it was probably the same. The culpability of media figures remains uncertain, since Streicher and Fritzsche were Nazi party leaders in addition to being newspapermen and media leaders. But if the trial principles were applied in an unbiased manner, then some MSM editors would be on the hook as well.)

    Just look at the four Nuremburg counts. Who that’s involved isn’t guilty of some or all of them? The evidence in the links above all goes directly to counts 3 (war crimes) and 4 (crimes against humanity), and some of it probably to count 1 (conspiracy to commit crimes against peace) as well. (I haven’t read all the links.)

    Just once I’d love to see some honesty with regard to this fact. How refreshing it would be to even hear a Bush or Obama supporter admit that he thinks Nuremburg was bogus, and that the Nazis were wrongfully convicted. That’s what such a supporter has to believe, after all.

    1. Paul Repstock

      I can tell you, on the highest authority I’ve ever known, that Nuremburg was a sham. My father was a witness.

      The day his world really crumbled was when he watched John Kennedy on television proclaiming “..ich bein ein Berliner.”, to the accompanying roar of hundreds of thousands of Germans??

      1. Paul Repstock

        If my use of the word sham is obscure, I’ll clarify. My Father knew that the limited number of prosecutions amounted to a sacrifice of expendable people.

        I would say that the same was true in the case of Saddam Husein.

      2. attempter

        Of course it was a sham in the minds of those who conducted it. The fact that corporations and corporate executives got off so lightly proves that. So what?

        The principles remain sound, and by now everyone claims in theory to respect what was done there.

    2. Externality

      Actually, Julius Streicher’s convictions by both the Weimar Republic and the Nuremberg Tribunal stemmed solely from writing articles adjudicated to be anti-Semitic. He was stripped of his official and party positions between 1938 and 1940, making it impossible for the Nuremberg Tribunal to try him for direct involvement in WW II or the Holocaust.

      Just as the neocons (and their fellow travelers) selectively quote from the Koran to justify Islamophobia, Streicher’s favorite tactic was selectively quoting from the Old Testament and the Talmud:

      Streicher also combed the pages of the Talmud and the Old Testament in search of passages which could paint their ancient Jewish authors as harsh or cruel, a practice which continues to this day among anti-Semites. In 1929, this close study of Jewish scripture helped convict Streicher in a case known as “The Great Nuremberg Ritual Murder Trial.” His familiarity with Jewish text was proof to the court that his attacks were religious in nature; Streicher was found guilty and imprisoned for two months. In Germany, press reaction to the trial was highly critical of Streicher; but the gauleiter was greeted after his conviction by hundreds of cheering supporters, and within months Nazi party membership surged to its highest levels yet.ürmer

      By the late 1930s, Streicher and his newspaper were viewed with disdain by the Nazi elite; both were barred from the circles of power. By 1940, he had been formally stripped of his party and official offices for corruption, avoiding prosecution only because of his friendship with Hitler.

      After the war, he was arrested and prosecuted for his pre-war writings and speeches. According to Wikipedia:

      Julius Streicher was not a member of the military and did not take part in planning the Holocaust, or the invasion of other nations. Yet his pivotal role in inciting the extermination of Jews was significant enough, in the prosecutors’ judgment, to include him in the indictment of Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal – which sat, ironically, in Nuremberg, where Streicher had once been an unchallenged authority. In essence, the prosecutors took the line that Streicher’s incendiary speeches and articles made him an accessory to murder, and therefore as culpable as those who actually ordered the mass extermination of Jews (such as Hans Frank and Ernst Kaltenbrunner).

      The official judgment against him cited his writings and speeches, which he had defended before the tribunal by reading verbatim from the Talmud.

      He was executed in 1946 in a badly botched hanging.

      1. attempter

        Actually, Julius Streicher’s convictions by both the Weimar Republic and the Nuremberg Tribunal stemmed solely from writing articles adjudicated to be anti-Semitic.

        Yes, he was a “journalist”, like I said. Not all that different from most of today’s MSM, really, other than the subject matter. That’s why I selected him as an example.

        What he did is no different in kind from, say, deficit terrorism on behalf of the robbery program of “austerity”, other that the primary goal in one case is murder, with robbery as a secobdary goal, while in the other case the priorities of robbery (class war) and murder (imperial war, the police state, etc.) are switched.

    3. Externality

      There is also post-Nuremberg precedent for punishing journalists who did not hold a government or party office.

      The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, convened by the UN, gave lengthy sentences to journalists who advocated torture and murder, or allowed their subordinates to do so. In at least two cases, journalists were given lengthy sentences solely because they managed a radio station that incited violence and hatred.

      American courts have also deported or denaturalized (took away the citizenship of) immigrants who wrote propaganda materials for the Third Reich or its allies decades before they became US citizens. Again, one can lose one’s citizenship solely for for writing articles deemed racist or encouraging wars of aggression. There was no evidence that many of these journalists, who lost their citizenship and were forced to leave the US for articles they had written decades earlier, had committed, ordered, or supervised any acts of violence. A report prepared by the Department of Justice discusses, among other things, their experiences of prosecuting Nazi-propagandists. (pp. 192-238)

      The government needs to be just as aggressive pursuing naturalized US citizens who encourage anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiment, support the war against Iraq, defend torture by US and Israeli forces, defend Israeli war crimes, and/or urge the waging of aggressive wars against Iran and alleged Iranian allies (North Korea, Venezuela, Ecuador, Syria, Lebanon). There is no reason why vilifying one Semitic people (Palestinians) should be more acceptable than vilifying another Semitic people (Jews).

      At least one prominent neo-con journalist and former Bush administration propagandist, David Frum, is a naturalized American citizen. As part of the Bush administration, he coined the term “axis of evil” and helped the administration push the idea of waging aggressive war against Iraq. Along with neo-con Richard Perle, he wrote An End to Evil, which further advocated both more aggressive wars and systematically stripping Americans of their privacy and civil liberties. His citizenship and eligibility to remain in the US should be reviewed under the same rules that were used to denaturalize and/or deport journalists from Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe for the articles they wrote.

      1. attempter

        There is also post-Nuremberg precedent for punishing journalists who did not hold a government or party office.

        The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, convened by the UN, gave lengthy sentences to journalists who advocated torture and murder, or allowed their subordinates to do so. In at least two cases, journalists were given lengthy sentences solely because they managed a radio station that incited violence and hatred.

        I forgot about that example, thanks.

        The existing system would never do any of this. On the contrary, it would use any such ideas against dissenters. But the argument goes to how the people should view system criminals of all varieties, regardless of their nominal status.

  5. Paul Repstock

    How much denial will it take before our people loose all touch with reality?

    The 9/11 part of GW’s article is interesting–
    “If even the 9/11 Commissioners don’t buy the official story, why do you?”
    I would ask,’why were the commisioners so afraid that they signed off on that rediculous report?’

    It has been obvious to millions from the very day 9,11,01 that the government story was false. Yet, very few people will even admit to doubts. Statistically, there is no chance that this “terrorist attack” could have succeeded in the manner we are told it occured. Yet no one even dares to question it.

    The world has many courageous and heroic people, yet the only public figure know of who has questioned these events is Jesse Ventura??

    1. Crazy Horse

      One of the characteristic of the digital age is that we spend many hours of each day in a manufactured, virtual reality rather than a physical and social reality. That we accept the official world view rather than some alternative is far from surprising.

      In the US we have always had an Owned Press rather than a free press or a public press. When the primary public communications medium consisted of hundreds of independent newspapers, the majority of them reflected the class bias of those wealthy enough to own a newspaper, but the sheer numbers left room for exceptions to the rule. That era is long past. With the event of Television, print media became less and less relevant to forming public opinion, and both television and newspapers have been absorbed into conglomerates controlled by a very few individuals with the absolute power to define the parameters of legitimate debate.

      The development of the Internet has (so far) provided a radical counter to the centralization of control and propaganda in the hands of the government and the media conglomerates. Driven by the rapid pace of digital technology, now everyone can become a news analyst, reporter, or video producer. Out of the galaxy of information on the internet, some sites can even rise to the point of influencing public debate like The Oil Drum (Peak Oil) or Naked Capitalism (Economic Policy). They may even become so valuable that they can sell out to mainstream media owners like the Huffington Post recently did!

      Yet for all the freedom of information flow represented by the internet, Television is and will remain the dominate medium for creating public opinion. Television is fundamentally a technology for brainwashing and mind control, ill suited to evaluation of information. The reasons for this effect are embodied in the way our minds have evolved to process information. As hunter-gathers on the African plains, our ancestors did not have the luxury to ponder the meaning of an attacking lion. As a result, visual information goes directly to the brain without questioning its validity. Any other reaction would have resulted in the lions becoming the king of all beasts including the extinct Homo Sapiens. When you turn on the TV after a hard day at the office or on the job site, the visual information streaming toward your brain is accepted as real and recorded as part of your experiential world. In order to evaluate what you see and reject it, it either must be radically counter to your ideological world view, or you must consciously recall it and reject it. 99% of what is seen is simply absorbed into the fog of mis-information that passes for human knowledge, and television is the ideal drug for maintaining that fog.

      A perfect example of how visual information defines reality is shown in the formation of public perception of the events of 911. In the US the acceptance of the official version of the collapse of the twin towers is nearly universal. Every person in the country witnessed planes flying into the towers, great sheets of flame shooting from the point of impact, and some time later the collapse of the buildings. Thus cause and effect are clearly imprinted in everyone’s mind. The non-visual information— the impossibility of heating steel beams to the melting point with an open flame fire, the mode of collapse and rate of fall, the presence of large pools of molten steel days afterward in the remains, and the collapse of the lightly damaged building #7 hours later are at odds with what everyone saw and thus are rejected without consideration. To do so would require a revision of one’s fundamental world view built up by an entire lifetime of “education” and propaganda about the perfection of our nation’s political and economic system and those who we have “elected” to lead us.

  6. Skepticus Maximus

    This is exactly what I never understood about US policy in Afghanistan and Iraq. As we see in the Middle East currently, people there despise their (unelected) governments for multiple reasons, one of the main reasons being their tendency to torture. I would think this concept would be easy to understand: People who torture are despised, hated, and they tend to create enemies. The enemies may be quiet enemies, or they may be loud and public enemies, but they are enemies.

    And so our government goes off and behaves EXACTLY like the regimes these people despise – mass torture, killing thousands, etc etc. And then they wonder “why do they hate us”???

    It’s almost like it’s deliberate – a strategy to CREATE ENEMIES. Why? I don’t know, maybe to feed the military-industrial complex with more enemies to fight so it can make more profilts. It’s difficult to believe that this is possible, but the only other explanation is that our leaders are buffoons (well, GWB…).

    Think about this: Torture-supporting newcons and terrorists are in a symbiotic relationship. They need each other to survive. Each gets more support and resources and legitimacy precisely by pointing to the other and saying “Look, look what those barbarians are doing!” Essentially, they’re on the same team, the Rogue Team. And decent folks, who just want to live normal lives and raise their families, are on the other team, living with the bloody consequences of the actions of this Rogue Team.


    1. Birch

      To understand US policy in Afganistan, we need to remember that all these people read 1984 when they were young just like we did. While we read in horror, they read it as a text book. When Bush II was appointed president by the supreme court in peacetime, he knew that his only chance at success depended on war propaganda. He needed a war that couldn’t be won any more than it could be lost – one that would go on forever and create new enemies as fast as they were killed – just like he learned from Orwell. Afganistan fit the picture perfectly, and resuming opium production there (vital for placating the masses) was the icing on the cake.

      1. ScottS

        I don’t know. I think it’s more a combination of Brave New World and the movie Brazil.

        We’re all in this together.

  7. Michael H

    Paul Repstock: “How much denial will it take before our people loose all touch with reality?”

    Skepticus Maximus: “It’s almost like it’s deliberate – a strategy to CREATE ENEMIES. Why? I don’t know, maybe to feed the military-industrial complex with more enemies to fight so it can make more profits.”

    I believe that both of the statements above are more or less accurate: the strategy is deliberate, and the public has already lost all touch with reality.

    The British playwright Harold Pinter (who devoted the last years of his life to campaigning against torture) described this total disconnect between the standard government policy of endorsing torture, then lying about it, and a public that is in complete denial of reality, and what is being done in their name:

    “Does reality essentially remain outside language, separate, obdurate, alien, not susceptible to description? Is an accurate and vital correspondence between what is and our perception of it impossible? Or is is that we are obliged to use language only in order to obscure and distort reality – to distort what happens – because we fear it? We are encouraged to be cowards. We can’t face the dead. But we must face the dead because they die in our name. We must pay attention to what is being done in our name.” – Harold Pinter “Oh Superman” 1990

  8. Michael H

    The Old Days 1996

    Well, there was no problem.
    All the democracies
    (all the democracies)

    were behind us.

    So we had to kill some people.
    So what?
    Lefties get killed.

    This is what we used to say
    back in the old days:

    Your daughter is a lefty

    I’ll ram this stinking battering-ram
    all the way up and up and up and up
    right the way through her lousy lefty body.

    So that stopped the lefties.

    They may have been the old days
    but I’ll tell you they were the good old days.

    Anyway all the democracies
    (all the democracies)
    were behind us.

    They said: just don’t
    (just don’t)
    tell anyone we’re behind you.

    That’s all.
    Just don’t tell anyone
    (just don’t)
    just don’t tell anyone
    we’re behind you.

    Just kill them.

    Well, my wife wanted peace.
    And so did my little children.
    So we killed all the lefties
    to bring peace to our little children.

    1. Michael H

      Omitted the last lines of the poem by accident. The last part should go like this:

      “Just kill them.

      Well, my wife wanted peace.
      And so did my little children.
      So we killed all the lefties
      to bring peace to our little children.

      Anyway there was no problem.
      Anyway they’re all dead anyway.”

    2. Paul Repstock

      Looked at the Pinter blog. Sad to see it totally lacking in any substance of his mission.

      1. Michael H

        If you’re referring to the Pinter link above, I don’t think it’s been updated in years.

        Way off topic, but in case you’re a fan of Harold Pinter I recently discovered the following NY Times article which discusses Pinter’s performance of “Krapp’s Last Tape” by Samuel Beckett. This was when Pinter himself was 76 years old, and dying of throat cancer:

        And here’s a link to the actual performance:

  9. rd

    Now that there are genuine democratic movements calling for human rights in the Middle East, it is truly amazing how much the policies of extraordinary rendition and torture have neutralized the US’s ability to play in that sandbox.

    The US should have been able to stand up and support these movements whole-heartedly. Unfortunately, RealPolitick, two badly executed Mid-East wars, and sending people to the brutal dictators to be tortured have meant that many of the people in these revolutions don’t believe that the US actually stands for human rights.

    I left out the US’s support of Israel as that is am much propaganda by Mid-East leaders as actual issues, but it was certainly a major hurdle for the US to covercome. Instead of overcoming it, the past decade has simply shown everybody in the Middle Easte that the propaganda is probably true.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Now that there are genuine democratic movements calling for human rights in the Middle East, it is truly amazing how much the policies of extraordinary rendition and torture have neutralized the US’s ability to play in that sandbox.


  10. F. Beard

    Even if torture worked (and it doesn’t) I would rather risk being blow up by a terrorist that to have my country stoop so low.

    And why the hell would anyone wish us harm anyway if we minded our own business?!

    The bankers are ultimately to blame. Our virulent form of banker fascism has killed tens, if not hundreds of millions.

  11. DaveTheCanuckiRepub

    Concerning the link: It’s official: torture doesn’t work “and “top experts agree…”

    I’m sorry to see that you posted these links. Unfortunately, the information therein is part of a mindless trope that’s been floating around the last few years about torture’s ineffectiveness.

    How do we know torture doesn’t work? Are these government agencies (e.g., the Senate Armed Services Committee) admitting to having tortured others in sufficient numbers to gain statistically valid data? No. Will any other governments fess up to having engaged in torture and provide their data, if they have any? No. If they exist, will American or other governments’ data be provided to the public so that social scientists and others can verify that torture doesn’t work? No. Even if waterboarding and other American “enhanced interrogation” techniques are ineffective methods, does that mean all methods of torture are ineffective? No. If a guy who was tortured and released, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, later states that he provided all false information necessarily telling the truth? No.

    I’m not saying that the benefits of torture outweigh the costs, that it’s a moral thing to do, or even a desirable policy option. But this mindless acceptance that “it’s been proven” that torture doesn’t work position is dumb.

    1. skippy

      Have you or those around you, ever been subjected to prolonged torture?

      Have you applied any form of torture to animals or humans, know anyone that has?

      I have…and antiquity is very clear on this subject…look into it.

      Skippy…thanks for taking the time to come over from zeroheadge…the predominantly pro torture site…but hay its all about the volume/mass…eh…traffic…

    2. Michael H

      DaveTheCanuckiRepub said: “How do we know torture doesn’t work?”

      Been listening to El Rushbo, have we? Or FoxNews?

      Oh, there’s no doubt that torture “works” in the sense that you mean.

      Under Pinochet for instance, in 1973……

      “During September and part of October, in the Santiago communities around the industrial areas, the soldiers would leave bodies in the streets. When their relatives came to pick them up, they were arrested. The bodies generally had fingernails pulled out, or legs broken, or testicles smashed. Several had their eyes burnt out, apparently with cigarette butts.

      In January 1974, Chilean Air Force troops deposited the body of a seventeen-year-old boy, an MIR party member, in a town south of Santiago. Part of the boy’s abdomen had been subjected to vivisection. Both his legs were broken, and also his left arm. His entire body was covered with holes made by cigarette burns. He had also been castrated. The coroner later cited as cause of death “acute anemia.”

      Other common forms of torture practiced by the Army’s SIM and military police intelligence officers were to extinguish cigarettes in the victim’s anus and to apply electric current to the ears, anus, and testicles. For their part, the officers of Navy infantry appeared to have developed other tastes: seven members of the Valparaiso harbor patrol turned up dead, their legs broken and their testicles smashed.”

      Multiply the above cases until you reach something like 35,000 individuals, and you get the picture.

      And that’s just one country.

      But it definitely worked, no question, in the sense that people like you mean: the economic reforms were forced through on the population, the socialists were killed off or frightened into submission and neoliberal capitalism was triumphant once again.


      1. DaveTheCanuckiRepub

        To Michael H: Do you honestly believe you responded to the content of my post? You could list the brutality and barbarism of torturers till Kingdom come, but that still wouldn’t constitute an answer about torture’s efficaciousness or lack thereof. I posted a position you disagree with, thus I must be a Foxnews/Limbaugh zombie? How sad that you’re so close-minded. This, especially since – had you bother to click on the links – the question about torture’s effectiveness therein concerns the potential for procuring accurate data. Perhaps you were too busy being self-righteous to pay attention.

        1. skippy

          What part do you not understand Dave, how can you inflict pain in search of fact, with a predisposition, and what ever the out come…rationalize its effectiveness.

          Torture is like an adjustable wrench, some times it does the job, some time it doesn’t, some times it busts your knuckles too and some times it strips the nut all together. So you see torture is a club, an ancient means of retribution dressed up as truth seeking, too bend others to your will, a coin flip in the veracity of its proclamations, yet with even a 50/50 chance of reliable/fruitful Intel (which its more like 20% decent still needs to be cross referenced{???} /80% pure rubbish) on critical time lines….LOL…YET some_*believe*_its still worth it…WHY.

          Skippy…look into history and torture…it has nothing to do with fact finding…century’s of data…all pointing at bending/breaking the will of an individual for all too see…it is punishment for not complying!

          1. Paul Repstock

            Never mind Skip. This ‘person’, does not seem to have ever posted on Naked Capitalism, at least not with that identity??

            I don’t know whether missing the point of the blog thread with a tangential post is a tactic. Perhaps the person is truly not capable of understanding that the use of torture has such a demoralizing consequence for the people of the offending nation that it cancels any benifit which might be presumed from striking fear in your opponents. In any case, it would seem that once again the aims of the government action, as not what they told the voters.

          2. DaveTheCanuckiRepub

            A friend recommended Smith’s book, so I decided to check out the blog. Does it follow that my neophyte posts are wrong or invalid from the fact that I’ve not posted before? Does it mean I’m a bad person or some sort of ‘outsider’? Do you not see the irony in castigating torture, but then putting ‘person’ in brackets in reference to me?

            The links referenced above, if you bothered to browse them, are part of an overall justificatory account. They fail in their goal. I argued why. Skippy makes claims about a 50/50 or 20% chances of “fruitful intel”. Based on what? This demonstrates that he responded twice to my original post without understanding it.

            Paul, you in turn seem to lack sufficient reading comprehension skills. In my original post I stated I was not defending the morality or desirability of torture as such. That you cannot separate these analytical elements of the overall position outlined in the post is your own failing. From what I’ve read, I like this blog. However, if you two bozos are representative of the posters, I think I’ll just stick to reading Smith’s own words.

          3. skippy

            Upon a time it was part my day job, in the past most of its application was used locally, until D.C. geared up under Cheney (Da Bruce) (chamber of horrors/inquisition style), assembly line, volume over quality, all on the most expensive balance sheet to date.

            Yet you show up and wish to point out hay it must work some times…right, the links did not disprove it in totality…it did work some times…20% is still a win…even after all the cross referencing still to be done…and of what quality in the end…could not be accomplished by other means in the end…sheez.

            Then to cap off the hole thing you trot out “A friend recommended Smith’s book, so I decided to check out the blog” shtick (curious by-passer), to smooth every thing over with the hostess prior to your drive by ad hominem “However, if you two bozos are representative of the posters, I think I’ll just stick to reading Smith’s own words. Talk about limited data reference points[!] you deploy in your argument that which you decry in your original statement, refutation of GW premise.

            Skippy…For your information this bozo has a lot of blood on his hands, that’s where my data point starts, whats yours…besides misanthropy.

          4. Paul Repstock

            The negative side of the argument would be to provide proof that torture works,(to gain the conviction of captured prisoners or alternatively to prevent terrorist attacks). There are those who will point to the abscence of terror attacks as evidence that torure was justified/effective), This is an empty bucket because you cannot prove a negative.

            I’m reminded of a very corny joke from my youth.
            There was a Beatnick (very evil type person), standing on a New York streetcorner twirling a chain. A passerby asked the Beatnick, “Hey man, what ‘ya doin”. To hich the Beatnick replied, “Keepin’ the elephants away”. The confused passerby said, “But man, there aren’t any elephants for thousands of miles.”
            To which the Beatnick replied, “See, I’m doin’ a good job, eh?”

          5. DaveTheCanuckiRepub

            Paul, I agree wholeheartedly about the negative point. What I don’t understand is why you fail to see how it applies equally to the positive assertion of torture’s unqualified failure.

            Nathaniel, provide the data from the groups in question. Surely, post-Cold War at least some (if not all) of that data has been made public. Show where it’s been analyzed. If you just say that it’s out there and ‘known by all’ you’re just begging the question. Without statistically valid data, you’re just regurgitating anecdotes (rumors) and proving MY point. In other words, you’re repeating this “deduction” (“Torture gets the torture victim to say what he thinks you want to hear. In other words, if you want false confessions, it works great! This is, of course, why it doesn’t give accurate data.”) without the proof.

        2. Nathanael

          Torture does not get accurate data.

          Yes, the former East German and Russian authorities did enough torture to know this for a fact. There are local police departments in the US which unfortunately have similar records, which were exposed after the fact.

          Torture gets the torture victim to say what he thinks you want to hear. In other words, if you want false confessions, it works great!

          This is, of course, why it doesn’t give accurate data. Even if the person being tortured knows the facts you need, if those aren’t the facts you *expect* to hear or *want* to hear, he will tell you whatever bullshit you expected to hear instead. *This* has shown up repeatedly in police cases. If you have the wrong person, someone who doesn’t actually know how to answer the questions you have, it is of course even worse.

          1. Nathanael

            There are actually documented crazy instances of the Russian Tsarist regime, if I remember correctly, torturing someone to try to get the names of their ‘accomplices’, but the torturers expected to hear different names than the real accomplices, so those are the names they got, and the real accomplices were left alone.

            That’s exactly how useless torture is if you care about the truth.

        3. DaveTheCanuckiRepub

          Let me be clear. I am in complete agreement that the Soviet Bloc (not just the Russian or East Germans) tortured people all the time. Indeed, their information would constitute infinitely superior evidence than that proffered in the posted links (‘advanced interrogation’ techniques professors and American authority figures’ mere opinions, etc.).

          Where, then, is it? Unless you provide evidence of the public records (not merely asserting that they exist, or heard they do), verified for authenticity and accuracy, and – most importantly – studied for statistical validity by social scientists and others that establish a published consensus, e.g., that a sufficiently diverse number of torture techniques were employed a sufficient number of times to demonstrate failure across the board, you’ve just ‘drunk the Kool-Aid’, as you Americans say. Merely asserting that they have, or that such published consensus has been established without evidencing where, doesn’t cut it.

          I myself heard that in the 1990s, during a wave of suicide bombings, the Israelis would strap Palestinians down into metal boots in the center of a floor, and then torture them for the location of bomb-making facilities and bomb-makers. They found both on numerous occasions, thus verifying the accuracy of the data procured by torture. Now, how do I PROVE that? I can’t. It’s just an anecdote. If I say there are records of such incidents, the onus would be on me to show where they are. Why would the Israelis, or anyone else, release data that would certainly damn them?

    3. acat

      Out of all your options listed you left out the one you seem to mindlessly accept , it works.

      Of course you have not provided any proof here other than your mindless assertion.

      By the way, we and others tortured long before 9/11 and it still did not prevent it.

      Also, you don’t do your side any favors with rubbish like this…how do you get he was released?

      “If a guy who was tortured and released, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed”

      1. DaveTheCanuckiRepub

        Acat, that was an error on my part. I meant to say released from torture and able to speak, as opposed to being “disappeared”

        As for providing proof, mine is a negative thesis, i.e., that the stated positions provide no evidence, public or otherwise, that torture never works. This can be verified by citations in the links provided above and the dearth of the kind of evidence I suggested is required. How else would I provide proof? If I say they don’t provide proof, and show they provide no evidence, how else do I provide evidence that they’ve provided no evidence?

  12. Jeremy

    Check out the March 1st, 2011 public comments at the bioethics commission.

    Several dozen nonconsensual experimentees showed up. At least one person pointed out that the activities could be called “experimentation”, but the real goals were more like torture.

    Happening in the US today, kids. It’s MKULTRA — super sounds of the 70’s, remixed with 21st century technology.


  13. Expat

    GW Bush should be arrested and given a choice: either he admits to crimes against humanity and is executed or he gets a secret Guantanamo trial with waterboarding until he admits to being a war criminal.

    Then it’s the turn of Rove, Rice, Gonzales, Rumsfeld, and Cheney to get their Hobson’s choice.

    And in keeping with the time-honored tradition of blogging, I will now toss in a ridiculous Nazi analogy. If WWII had been fought last year, Hitler, Goering, and Mengele would have received huge severance packages and signed contracts to host programs on Fox.

    The failure to even investigate a single Bush administration official over anything related to torture justifies every act of so-called terrorism committed against our nation by any of the peoples or nations we have tortured, invaded, and massacred.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Expat: there haven’t been any, “justifies every act of so-called terrorism committed against our nation by any of the peoples or nations we have tortured, invaded, and massacred.”
      Osama bin Laden didn’t even know that he had master minded 9/11 till 48 hours later when suddenly he had an ‘Oh yeah moment”.
      Everything since has been a series of pathetic and non credible threats.

      If you doubt me, go find a seasoned military person in your neigbourhood and ask him how difficult it would be to bring down civilian passenger planes on approach or specially on take-off from any major airport.

      Ordinary people be they Americans or any other nationality are just not insane enough to kill and maim their fellow humans. That behavior usually requires the need of governments to stay in contrl.

  14. hermanas

    Courage is a charachter trait we admire and found in great leaders. Torture is characteristic of bullies. Bullies are insecure cowards. Is there an advocate for torture that you would forward for “Profiles in Courage”?

    1. Paul Repstock

      Great leaders seem to have been in very short supply, these last 50 years. Mr.Obama’s decision to continue Guantanamo trials has put the final nail in his candidacy.

      We have a few global prospects, but need to see if the people of the world will protect them from the nihilist assasins of the One World Order.

      The terrorists we need to worry about wear Armani and Brooks Bros.

      1. hermanas

        Amen Paul, I wasn’t critizing you but that war, if it had any worth was to eliminate backsliders and cowardice is now enabling those traits.

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