Talk:Enhanced interrogation techniques

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Reason for not prosecuting[edit]

The reason President Obama chose not to prosecute Bush administration officials? The current text suggests it was a kind of personal cowardice: if I prosecute them, my successor will prosecute me. But that is after-the-fact conjecture by people who were not there. Dean of the University of California at Berkeley Law School Christopher Edley, Jr., who WAS there, he served on Obama's transition team, said even before he took office the team had decided not to prosecute. He said they feared a mutiny by the military and the national security officials, and (ironically as it turned out) they were worried jailing the Bush administration would hamstring the Presidency because of Republican intrasigence in Congress. (The reference is here)

Obama, or at least his staff, had decided not to prosecute in other words, before he took office: before he started launching drones against civilians, before he himself might be vulnerable to a war crimes accusation. I think this section needs to change to reflect there was more than one reason, and to reduce the inference that it was wholly personal cowardice which (if this account of events is accurate) it wasn't. Still I would be happier if I could find a citation to President Obama himself stating the actual reason. All I can find is the nonsensical slogan "look forward not backward" which if taken seriously would negate the entirety of criminal law. I will await consensus.ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 02:36, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

It won't matter. Any statement you find is going to be political posturing.
As for phony "war crimes" charges, he is the President of the United States during a time of war. There are always going to be some with sympathies for the other side who will make accusations.
Obama has never launched drones against civilians. Targets are approved by lawyers. Yes, innocents do get killed in wars, but that's the nature of wars where the enemy gets excused for not wearing uniforms. And when the critics don't support the laws of war (e.g. such as those mentioned in your link) then that's a pretty clear sign that they don't actually oppose war crimes.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 08:24, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments, Randy. I have now found a more credible and mainstream news source for the proposition that the decision not to prosecute predated Obama's taking office, and had to do with the fear of a military mutiny, as well as Republican Congressional intrasigence, here. I will add this reasoning to the article unless there is objection.ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 22:32, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
No objection from me, but it should be attributed to Christopher Edley, Jr., and be careful to avoid improper synthesis. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 07:06, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
Okay, added a sentence, using Dr. Fleischman's suggested approach.ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 15:42, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

Seymour Hersh, … children in front of their parents[edit]

Editor ElijahBosley changed “sodomizing of a boy” to “sodomizing children in front of their parents”, citing a verbal statement by Seymour Hersh. In the Seymour Hersh Wikipedia article, Hersh appears to try to walk this verbal statement back a bit, stating "I actually didn't quite say what I wanted to say correctly”. In his book Chain of Command, he wrote that one of the witness statements he had read described the rape of a boy by a foreign contract interpreter at Abu Ghraib, during which a woman took pictures. I didn’t see anything in the book about “parents” related to the sodomy story, or any report of more than one child involved. Given Hersh’s own statements about his verbal statement, would it be better to quote what he put in writing (in the first intro paragraph of this article)? Gouncbeatduke (talk) 06:00, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

I removed this content; thanks for pointing it out. It was not reliably sourced. Hersh made this allegation in a speech, not in an edited piece of journalism. Therefore it is not reliable. This is also an example of an exceptional claim that requires multiple exceptional sources. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 08:02, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the cite to the Seymour Hersh article in which apparently he does seem to walk back the claim. I see no independent mainstream press corroboration of Hersh's original story, only blogs repeating it. So at this point I concur that this is an exceptional claim that needs more sources.ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 22:05, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

"Torture" or "information retrieval"[edit]

An IP has proposed a change to the lede, [1]. Per WP:EUPHEMISM, I think the previous wording is superior. As the lede and body of the article go on to explain, essentially every human rights authority defines these techniques as torture and it is reasonable to identify them such in Wikipedia's voice. VQuakr (talk) 07:18, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

Agree. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 08:27, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
Agree. Deleted "any objections" as that could be interpreted as asking whether we are agreeing with the IP. The media, political, and academic consensus is it's torture, and anything else is euphemism. --ElijahBosley (talek ☞) 14:25, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
Agree. Ratemonth (talk) 19:51, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
  • That change is almost funny. Think about it this way:
    "information retrieval" = Google for info.
    "Torture" = hack Google to get information.
    The former is legal while the latter is not. Guess you get the point; and yes, it's the usual POV vandalism we get here on this article.TMCk (talk) 22:33, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
Not vandalism, just contributions by editors not familiar with our policies on neutrality and global perspective. VQuakr (talk) 01:59, 10 March 2015 (UTC)
If the IP is new to Wiki, you're of course right.TMCk (talk) 02:17, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Edit request to remove bias.[edit]

Hello everyone (and you VQuakr), in the first sentence, I would like to change "euphemism for methods used in the U.S. government's program of systematic torture" to "term for methods used in the U.S. government's program of harsh interrogations". It sounds much, MUCH more neutral to me. Look guys, whether or not these techniques amount to torture is a matter of legal/personal opinion, not fact. A good number of detractors don't believe it's torture, and since Wikipedia is supposed to present all sides fairly (unless one side is a fringe or significant tiny minority - which is not the case here), I think this sentence is much better. Wikipedia has a neutrality policy, and the first sentence is a blatant opinion. Regards, Cali11298 (talk) 04:12, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

A suggestion for a similar edit was suggested above and gained zero traction. "Enhanced interrogation techniques" is a euphemism, and the reasoning above re the word "torture" still applies. It is not a personal opinion. VQuakr (talk) 04:26, 4 April 2015 (UTC)
First, thanks to Cali11298 for doing the responsible thing, discussing first here rather than going back and forth with provocative reverts. That sentence is the battle scarred smoldering wreckage of edit wars off and on for years now. On the substance: all five sources call it a "euphamism for torture." Regardless of one's own opinion on what is opinion--Wikipedia goes with what the sources say.ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 21:39, 6 April 2015 (UTC)