Talk:Enhanced interrogation techniques/Archive 2

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POV

If anyone's been following the discussion Talk:Enhanced interrogation techniques#"methods considered by many to be" it ends with Rama's view that "enhanced interrogation techniques" must be taken as a whole "package". My conclusion is that, if true, there are four problems with this article:

  1. The lead needs to let the readers know that this is a whole package, not a collection of techniques a la carte;
  2. We will definitely need a reference for that;
  3. Everytime the technique is addressed as a pronoun, we have to use "it" instead of "they";
  4. We need to state clearly that only three people have been subjected to this "package".

I don't buy this view, and I'd like for others to work this out. My alternative would be to either limit the torture claims to the belief that waterboarding is torture, or find good references to real claims about the others. As I said before, I'd like to see names if possible.

There are other problems with this article. It moves too easily between CIA and DoD practices. Then there's the misleading reference to Khadr I've pointed out.

-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:22, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

No, misunderstand my argument.
I am using the weakest possible argument to prove my point. Since even you cannot deny that waterboarding is indeed torture, I use it as the minimal threshold above which things are torture, and since the so-called "enhanced interrogation technique" are greater than waterboarding, I consider the point settled.
I am not saying that the "techniques" cannot be taken one by one; that only a session including waterboarding can be labeled "enhanced interrogation technique"; and that the other "techniques" are not torture. Rama (talk) 09:35, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
I certainly can question whether waterboarding is always torture, under the legal definition of torture, no matter the manner in which it is performed. Others have made that case before. If you read my posts carefully, I was only allowing for the stipulation that it is torture because I know it's a king-sized waste of time to argue against that point here.
The other techniques are not greater than waterboarding. I specifically addressed waterboarding because it's the most harsh method that the CIA is said to have used in this war, and the only one that's easily imagined to be torture. Everything else on the list, from the attention grab to the long-time standing, is considerably easier to endure, and it's much harder to call them torture. Discomfort is not necessarily torture. Without waterboarding, the enhanced techniques are not torture.
Yes, it's possible someone could be killed from shaking. People have also been killed on thrill rides at Disneyworld. We don't call them torture.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:29, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Please confine your comments to useful comments about the Wikipedia the article. If I wanted to read apologies of torture, I could chose to do so and I would pick relevant authors. Rama (talk) 16:35, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
It is about the article. As I said, we need "to either limit the torture claims to the belief that waterboarding is torture, or find good references to real claims about the others." My explanation above is why I was willing to let everyone else fudge in assuming that waterboarding is also torture.
You'll have a more difficult time claiming that the rest are torture, and yet, this is how the article currently reads. In other words, the article is misleading.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:48, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
That waterboarding is torture is not a belief, it is a fact.
The article is indeed misleading, but only because of "considered by many to be torture" rather than plain "are".
Waterboarding is a part of the so-called "Enhanced interrogation techniques"; it is notable because it is consensually accepted to be torture; something which includes torture is torture. That settles the point without having to discuss whether other "techniques" also are plain torture; or only illegal, inhumane and cruel without, by some magic, being "actual" torture. Rama (talk) 17:07, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
As I said, I don't really want to waste my time to argue waterboarding here. You can believe whatever it is you wish to believe.
Enhanced interrogation included waterboarding for only three terrorists. The article says "describe methods considered by many to be torture." The word "methods" is plural but you only have one method commonly said to be torture, and it appears to be the least-employed method on the list. Most people reading this article aren't going to understand your use of the language.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:44, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
What I believe is irrelevant. I merely see that all internationally respect authorities on the question label waterboarding as torture. The only ones who do not are those guilty of it (or irrelevant sympathisers who are not the issue).
That the Bush administration tortured "only" three people, even if is was true, would change nothing to the nature of the torture they endured. Similarly, even if one of the so-called "Enhanced interrogation techniques" was actually torture, the entire set would contain torture, and therefore be torture. Rama (talk) 17:57, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
The article doesn't express that, and neither do any of its sources.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:37, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
The common sense and logic that dictates that things are characterised by their most proeminent feature do. Rama (talk) 19:07, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Incidentally, the death of Manadel al-Jamadi by strappado at Abu Ghraib occurred at the hands of the CIA. I understand that strappado is a form of torture, is it not? Rama (talk) 19:52, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Even if your version of "common sense and logic" were applicable, the most prominent feature of enhanced interrogation would be whatever was used the most. That would probably be the attention grab, since we can assume everyone gets the first item on the list, or the long time standing because it would take up the most time.
The strappado isn't on the list of authorized techniques. If it were then the guy who beat that fascist to death couldn't have been brought to trial.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 03:25, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
No. The most prominent feature of a murderer is that he kills people, not that he sleeps at night, even though he does that a much longer time in his life. Similarly, the most prominent feature of the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" are in their "enhancements", as their very name says.
You do not know whether strappado is or is not in the list of authorised techniques, this list is classified. The victim was not a fascist, and the killer, Mark Swanner, was not brought to trial. Rama (talk) 08:56, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
Mark Swanner was an interrogator, not the killer. Someone else was tried for it.
The cause of death was not necessarily that of actual strappado. I just did some more searching and found that it's not certain strappado was used. The claims about "Palestinian hanging" appeared to be the interpretation of an "expert" who wasn't there who had been consulted by an AP reporter who wasn't there. Actual witnesses said the fascist was able to kneel. That means it's not strappado.
Regardless, strappado isn't on the list we've seen, and it isn't in character with the other items.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:01, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
Palestinian hanging is a variant of Strappado. Mark Swanner was repeatedly cited as responsible for the death.
Stop calling the victim a "fascist", he had no link to Italy of the 1930s.
I do not care about what you claim to have seen. The list of authorised US tortures is classified; you are not a notable source, and I do not trust you anyway. Rama (talk) 17:54, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
By "the list we've seen" I was referring to what is publicly available, and is already in this WP article. That there may or may not be more doesn't really matter. The references matter, and they don't say strappado was ever on the list. It's not even conclusive that strappado was used in al-Jamadi interrogation. Whatever you may like to think about Swanner, it's not relevant to this article.
The word "fascist" (without a capital "F") has been used more broadly than just the original Fascists. Its informal use in this way also goes back to the 1930s.
The bottom line is, waterboarding is the only method on the list that a lot of unbiased and knowledgable people might claim to be torture, and it wasn't a prominent feature of enhanced interrogation.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:52, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
I am not interested in what is officially admitted by the Bush administration here, but in reality; this article documents was happened, not US propaganda. The actual list of authorised US "enhanced interrogation techniques" is classified; in itself, this proves that real list and what is officially admitted by the Bush administration do not match.
Incidentally, "Extremely painful stress positions" is listed in the Wikipedia article, and strappado matches this description.
The fact that an officer who killed a prisoner by submitting him to strappado (or "Palestinian hanging", crucifixion or whatever you want to call torture based on restricting respiration by the position of the arms) was not trialed is also quite conclusive, particularly when other officers have been reprimanded.
At least two methods of torture are known to have been used by the US, and in one instance a prisoner was tortured to death. Other methods used in combination and at length evidently also qualify as torture.
Stop your "prominent feature" nonsense. The SS was labeled a criminal organisation even though many SS were only elite soldiers who committed no war crimes. Outright torture is evidently the most salient trait of the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques", as the "enhanced" term suggests tellingly enough. Rama (talk) 19:31, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
The list we have is the closest to reality there is. Contrary to what you've said, it's not what whas "officially admitted by the Bush administration." If you read the article, it says it was revealed by anonymous current and former CIA insiders.
The "extremely painful stress positions" I see here are not listed as part of any interrogation program in use during the Bush administration. It is only listed in the SERE program. Even so, while it's possible that strappado could be a stress position, it's not the only one there is.
There was an officer tried for al-Jamadi's death. The fact that the interrogator wasn't tried wouldn't mean his stress position was authorized by the CIA. We don't at this point really know that the interrogator had responsibility for putting him in that position.
But it really doesn't matter. It is an extreme violation of WP:SYNTH to say that that was on the CIA's list of enhanced interrogation techniques.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 20:48, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
I never said that it is. This list is classified, I do not have access to it and neither do you.
What I am saying is that the "technique" of "Palestinian hanging", unquestionably torture and deadly, is part of the "enhanced interrogation techniques", since it is used and accepted by the CIA. That is purely factual. Whether it is or is not on some criminal list is irrelevant.
Indeed there are more "extremely painful stress positions" than "Palestinian hanging", and I look forwards to knowing exactly what was done by the CIA and the US military in addition to it. Rama (talk) 21:30, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
What you claim to be "factual" isn't factual at all. As I said, it's not certain that strappado was used on al-Jamadi, and we don't know that it was accepted by the CIA. The "extremely painful stress positions" you cite are not on the list we have for them. There isn't any evidence that there's a bigger list with more techniques. You might think there's more but you're only guessing.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 21:53, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
The way al-Jamadi was killed is documented:
One of those examiners, Dr. Michael Baden, who is the chief forensic pathologist for the New York State Police, told me, “What struck me was that Jamadi was alive and well when he walked into the prison. The SEALs were accused of causing head injuries before he arrived, but he had no significant head injuries—certainly no brain injuries that would have caused death.” Jamadi’s bruises, he said, were no doubt painful, but they were not life-threatening. Baden went on, “He also had injuries to his ribs. You don’t die from broken ribs. But if he had been hung up in this way and had broken ribs, that’s different.” In his judgment, “asphyxia is what he died from—as in a crucifixion.” [1]
The fact that the CIA officer responsible for this was not put to trial clearly proves that this is accepted by the CIA. It is all the more clear that SEAL personal were admonished by beating the same prisoner: the case is documented, undesired behaviour can and in fact is sanctioned, and strappado is not.
It is really a hopeless battle you are fighting. If torture happens, it is an environment and a mindset. Waterboarding, happening, other forms of torture will inevitably occur. You cannot have "clinical" waterboarding without illegal abduction, detention, ill treatment, beating, abuse, and eventually without Graner and his accomplices. Rama (talk) 00:25, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
No, it "clearly proves" no such thing. There are many reasons why some things aren't prosecuted. A murder conviction probably couldn't have been won against Swanner.
If you read the previous page on your source, you'll see that the actual strappado technique wasn't used. It may still have been illegal but it's irrevant anyway and this is a pointless argument. Like I said, what you're asking for would violate WP:SYNTH.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 01:06, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
You are trying to deny reality by being hypertechnical, like all torture apologists. [2] clearly states that al-Jamadi died by so-called "Palestinian hanging". It is clear that a CIA officer performed the "technique". The officer guilty for the death of al-Jamadi was not only not prosecuted, he still works for the CIA.
Other techniques, like deprivation of sleep, deprivation of food, "stress positions" and cold have been called torture by the US State Department itself. etc, etc.
Hypertechnicality will not save you more than it saved Nuremberg defendants. Torture is an institution and an atmosphere; focusing on a few points to deny torture is akin to building a one-metre-long wall on a beach to keep the tide off. Rama (talk) 09:31, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
I don't care if you want to extend the strappado's definition to include the ability to stand. I'm sure you're not the only one. It still doesn't help you here.
I also don't care that you think those who fight fascism might risk prosecution down the line if they exceed some interpretations of rules that are often nebulous and arbitrary. That really isn't anything new. The new element is that we're now getting everyone's position on the record so that people who claim to oppose torture will find it more difficult to readjust their positions later.
Swanner's continued employment doesn't mean very much either. You still don't have all the facts while also ignoring the SYNTH restrictions.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 15:57, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
Please spare us your personal apologies of torture. Fascism has absolutely nothing to do with the matter. And "exceed some interpretations of rules"... Please.
When you find a dead person in the position of so-called "Palestinian hanging", that a later autopsy find to have died from respiratory insufficiency, how do you add 1 and 1? Or rather, oh great defender of civilisation against "fascism-with-a-small-f", what would you say if a US soldier was found dead in this position at the hands of your "fascists-with-a-small-f"? Not torture?
Swanner's continued employment means everything. Or else, Graner's indictment does not mean anything either, and I throw the Abu Ghraib scandal into "Enhanced interrogation techniques", something which should probably have been done long ago anyway. Rama (talk) 16:26, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
I was only saying that it wasn't really a Palestinian hanging. I wasn't saying that it didn't ultimately have the same end result of death.
Your question about what I'd say if it was applied to a U.S. soldier is rather late in the game. Had it been asked in that theoretical sense before the war (and ignoring how these things really worked in the last few wars), one could say a uniformed soldier should have been due the privileges of the Geneva Conventions. Those rules are a lot more strict than what an American police department is limited to when it interrogates suspects. Not only should he not be tortured or otherwise roughed up, there should be no disadvantage given for not going beyond name, rank, and number. But since this is 2008, and the war has been going on for at least seven (or more) years, I think we both know that the full strappado would be a mere starting point for his agony, and that none of the people who claim to oppose torture will say anything of importance because they simply don't care.
What Swanner's continued employment means to you is still a violation of SYNTH.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:59, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
The chap was left with his hands tied in his back, attached to a window, which would have made any position other than full standing painful and dangerous. What exactly do you think "Palestinian hanging" is ? Furthermore, for the victim to be found dead in this position with his arms almost popping out of their sockets, as described by a US soldier, the man must have fallen unconscious while restrained in this fashion; what could have caused him to faint? And in what sort of disposition should the CIA "interrogator" have been to leave him in such a position long enough for his to die?
During the invasion itself, Donald Rumsfeld, then US defence secretary, protested Iraqi TV broadcasting of US prisoners as violating the Geneva Conventions. While I command his humanity in these circumstances, I really wonder what his reaction would have been is these soldiers have been subjected to torture, even leaving no physical marks. Of course I expect US troops to behave more humanely than the stooges of Saddam Hussein, which makes the contrast even more striking.
Swanner's continued employment means, in the clearest possible manner, that CIA employees are expected to put prisoners in a position where they could accidentally die. Your delaying tactics are lame and bad faith hypertechnicalities. Rama (talk) 14:55, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
WP's description of strappado includes the clause "suspended in the air." Without that, there is only an implicit threat of pain unless he falls down. Swanner could have claimed to prosecutors that he fully intended to make sure that wouldn't happen. His lawyers would have argued that the SEALs bore most of the responsibility. As a federal employee with many years of service, it's also likely that Swanner would be difficult to fire.
Your comment about Rumsfeld's concern for U.S. troops suggests that you didn't fully take the meaning of my previous post. Rumsfeld surely expected every captured American to be abused, and that almost every officer would be tortured severely. The U.S. has no enemies or potential enemies that will not use torture deliberately and as a matter of policy. While the U.S. can't legally use torture, there is nothing to be gained by using more restraint than is required by law.
Your position is still a violation of WP:SYNTH. Frankly, those rules also prevent a few edits I'd like to make.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:27, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
You were contesting "Palestinian hanging", not strappado; anyway, they are variants, being suspended is not essential to the technique. They are all variants of crucifixion, in fact, and that no cross in involved changes nothing to the physiomechanical principle.
What is it that I was supposed to understand? "Application of the Geneva Conventions is not in the enlightened self-interest of the USA because its enemies would not reciprocate such conduct by treating US prisoners in a humane fashion"?
Just like WP:AGF does not command stupidity and angelism, WP:SYNTH does not mean that you can shield a Wikipedia against the obvious. Rama (talk) 18:04, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
The WP article on strappado says it is the same thing as Palestinian hanging. If you want to reimagine the definition then go right ahead. It doesn't change anything here.
Reciprocity is not a factor in the current Geneva Conventions. I was making the simple observation that there is little point to going beyond its minimum requirements. It's not just that our enemies never observe them. When pressed, some of our western allies probably won't do so either.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:35, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Minimum requirements do call for humanity and respect in international law. And the US law also forbids the crimes that are committed against the prisoners at Guantanamo, which is the point of the "Torture memo". The USA are not scrapping the bottom of the barrel, they are digging right through it. And now Rumsfeld is found responsible for Abu Ghraib, as I predicted. Rama (talk) 11:46, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
Those minimum requirements can be quite minimal. As I said, a true strappado hasn't been authorized. As for waterboarding, even if it bothered me severely, I don't think waterboarding three fascists for an average of 45 seconds is scraping the bottom of the barrel. As I said, most European countries would likely resort to full-fledged torture much more quickly.
I'm not particularly worried about Rumsfeld. The new report has a few new details but the general theme is not new. This was all in the works before the election, and they're just giving Rumsfeld one last kick. For all their bluster, the Senate is not going to want to do anything that will limit Obama's options much further.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:08, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
Like all torture apologists, you are trying, in vain, to hide behind what you think is the letter of the law, in order to destroy its spirit. Waterboarding has been used far more often than thrice. The people who have been tortured are not "fascists", stop calling them that. Your speculations about European countries are irrelevant, first because I am not interested in your views of the world, and second because even if European countries did torture people, it would not be an excuse for the USA to do so.
The report of the Senare links Rumsfeld and the "Enhanced interrogation techniques" policies directly to the torture that occurred in Abu Ghraib. This would in itself be sufficient to qualify "Enhanced interrogation techniques" to be torture. Rama (talk) 16:46, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
If you've got a reliable source that claims waterboarding was used more than three times then, by all means, let's see it. Be sure to include the list of notable people claiming to believe it.
If you're going to say the U.S. is "scrapping the bottom of the barrel" then the standards of the rest of the world (i.e. that's the "barrel") would seem to be relevant.
As this article very critically quotes Janis Karpinski, "The methods consisted of making prisoners stand for long periods, sleep deprivation ... playing music at full volume, having to sit in uncomfortably ... Rumsfeld authorised these specific techniques." If you read the Senate report, you'll see that the period for standing that Rumsfeld authorized was limited to four hours. That's exceptionally weak tea as far as torture goes.
The most controvertial enhanced techniques were CIA policy, not DoD. If you read the report, it's apparent that the criticism against Rumsfeld it politically motivated whining that leads nowhere. Everything he did was checked by lawyers. On the other hand, the CIA's use of waterboarding was approved by politicians that included the likes of Nancy Pelosi, who's one of Rumsfeld's biggest critics.
To hide behind the letter of the law is another way of saying it's all perfectly legal.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:54, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claims to have been waterboard five times, for instance. He would thus single-handledy exceed the amount state by Ashcroft "understanding".
The barrel is not what people do, but what is proper to do. I though that "Reciprocity is not a factor in the current Geneva Conventions", what happened to these principles?
Rumsfeld authorised the principle of torturing people which would inevitably end with something like Abu Ghraib. Incidentally, I remember Rumsfeld more for his imfamous "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours?". Typically the sort of things that save you the need to give explicit authorisations.
To hide behind the letter of the law while breaking its spirit is not perfectly legal. Especially when war crimes and crimes against humanity are involved. Think "Nuremberg". Rama (talk) 23:04, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes, KSM claims a lot of things. His hatred for the U.S. gives him ample reason to do so.
Like it or not, the closest thing you have to realistic sources are the anonymous CIA personnel who leaked the story. They say KSM held out for 90 seconds. Still, it would be important to list any and every notable critic who supports KSM. The notable ones should never be forgotten.
This isn't a matter of reciprocity. The Red Cross notes about drafting the GCs tell of the reluctance to Common Article 3. That's why it's so ambigious and so limited. People who truly care about human rights strongly disapprove of unlawful combatancy. Some degree of tough interrogation is to be expected. The real inhumanity would be to give KSM undeserved POW privileges when the information he has could reduce the number of bombs that need to be dropped.
Again, that's still only about waterboarding. Even if your paperback novel interpretation of Rumsfeld's questions were consistent with the real world, it's not torture.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:51, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
Why would Mohammed claim something so precise and credible? When he says things out of hatred, his style is much more lyrical. Ashcroft's formulation, clearly designed to be ambiguous, supports these claims.
I do not understand your insinuations about supports of Mohammed. Could you be clearer?
Yes it is about reciprocity. You are conditioning respect of international conventions to respect by third parties.
1) I am not interested in knowing whether you think that the USA should compare to Nazi Germany or Algeria-occupying France rather than the modern ones.
2) Whether France, for instance, would revert to the barbaric state in which it was partially during the 50s is purely a matter of conjecture (actually, nothing in the current doctrine supports this, nor do we have any indication of such tendencies from the present engagements of French troops).
3) Respect of international conventions is not conditioned to the respect of these conventions by other parties.
Your "give KSM undeserved POW privileges when the information" is yet another instance of the classical "ticking bomb" rant. Let me be perfectly clear: I am not interested in what you think; I find your views sickening, and if you acted upon you discourses, you would be a war criminal and your place would be in prison; furthermore, I have read many instances of such views uttered by people like Aussaresses, who are historically significant, and I see no reason to expose myself to such filth from some random person.
Incidentally, this argument is not only irrelevant, it is complete bollocks.
Waterboarding is torture. Even you cannot hope to deny it and be taken seriously. Rama (talk) 11:17, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
It's not me who has a conditional respect for the Geneva Conventions.
If you read the GCs, Common Article 2 clearly says (with the exception of Common Article 3), that the balance applies only to wars between "two or more High Contracting Powers." So, according to both the spirit and letter of the GCs, that excludes both Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
It's true that Common Article 3 was ruled to apply. But you shouldn't get much satisfaction over that because you're still basically wrong. First, it was a narrow ruling, and a reversal of a previous ruling that said it didn't apply either. It was legitimate up to that point. Moreover, these are minimal rights. They still don't say KSM was ever due the full rights of a true prisoner of war.
That's not likely to change under soon-to-be President Obama unless he need to reclassify the detainees to satisfy his campaign promise to close GTMO. It's worth noting that Obama's own attorney general nominee had agreed with the Bush administration on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions.
As for who supports KSM, I think it's obvious that he still has a handful of supporters in the Arab/Muslim world, although that number is dwindling. There are also a large number of activists who'd like to see him prevail in the courts regardless of the consequences. Frankly, it could well be that he was waterboarded more often than the anonymous CIA personnel had said. Or maybe he was counting splashes of water, in which case they could both be right. It ultimately doesn't really matter here. KSM is still not a reliable source.
This isn't about waterboarding anyway. I've already said I don't think it's worth arguing over at this point. That's still only one technique, and you'll have a hard time saying that the others would necessarily fit the legal definition of torture.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:14, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
First of all: Waterboarding is NOT torture. That is my opinion, and should not be included in the article. However, this article is so slanted against waterboarding and needs to be rewritten. You can't say waterboarding is torture, as some disagree. And most of all, this article isn't about waterboarding, it's about Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.
Ryan1159 (talk) 04:47, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
You're right that it hasn't been legally determined to be torture all the time depending upon how it's done, but that argument was lost a long time ago. The people who claim to oppose waterboarding feel pretty strongly about it.
A WP administrator once came into the waterboarding article saying he'd clear this up, and made a list for everyone to add notable claims that it was "generally torture" and claims that it was "generally not torture" (which was not really the argument because even interrogation supporters say it is torture under certain conditions). But this admin rapidly decided that the article should say it is torture all the time, and there was no "generally" about it. You can't win with these people.
Even so, waterboarding is a minor part of these techniques. Given that it's about U.S. interrogation methods, it's misleading to have a picture of Cambodians doing it. They don't do it the same way. Anyone who sees this article is going to be misinformed.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:42, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
This is all completely irrelevant. The question is whether anyone significant outside the Bush administration says that the practices used in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other similar places are not torture. Your answer so far has been to deny that torture is torture, and to repeat that in your opinion torture is acceptable; this has no interest whatsoever.
Your inability to produce any example is probably a sign that the wording "is torture" should indeed by restored. Rama (talk) 01:18, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
Nope. Excluding waterboarding, the notable critics of U.S. enhanced interrogation claim it's illegal because they say they think it violates other laws. There are very few that say it's outright torture in the legal sense. Do you see any of them saying the attention grab and the belly-slap are legally considered torture?
Some of the real nutcase critics, like Andrew Sullivan, have made comparisons to a man covered with bags of ice. That's the sort of thing our enemies have done. The CIA list has the cold cell at 50 degrees, and we don't even know the time limit on that. It's clearly not the same thing as bags of ice.
Besides that, the Bush administration's lawyers are prominent lawyers. We can know they're not simply a rubber stamp because they've turned down other techniques, as well as proposed CIA operations that could have saved American lives. Their opinions are legitimate.
I've said I'm not going to argue waterboarding right now. That's all you have, and nothing else.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 15:59, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Arbitrary break

Susan J. Crawford, convening authority of military commissions, had the following to say:

"This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge" to call it torture.

Note the part that is bold, clearly it is not one specific technique, or, in the words of Scott Horton:

she has apparently evaluated “torture” on the basis of the totality of the treatment meted out by interrogators and jailers to the prisoner, not by segmenting and evaluating each individual technique applied. That is what the law requires, and what the Justice Department studiously ignores, fully aware of the inevitable conclusion to which it would lead.

To me this settles the above debate.217.166.60.19 (talk) 15:48, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

On the contrary, I was thinking of using this source, too.
She explains why the techniques in and of themselves are not necessarily torture.
Andrew McCarthy once wrote something similar about waterboarding, "The sensation is temporary, not prolonged. There shouldn’t be much debate that subjecting someone to it repeatedly would cause the type of mental anguish required for torture. But what about doing it once, twice, or some number of instances that were not prolonged or extensive? ... Personally, I don’t believe it qualifies." And that was waterboarding.
Clearly, this judge is saying something very similar. It was only the totality of the acts that made her decide it was torture. In other words, in her opinion none of these techniques individually are being called torture.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:30, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, and it would be a wonderful world indeed, but it so happens that these "techniques" are used in combination and for prolonged time, because the aim is to destroy the victim's personality. Torture it is and no less. Rama (talk) 18:01, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

Of course, today, through sleight of hand, people say that The sensation is temporary, not prolonged conspicuously ignoring that this temporary notion is explicitly absent in the legal definition according to UNCAT:

Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Second, you will at least agree that applying a combination of these techniques has now been officially determined to be torture. Third, why are you ignoring the position numerous instituions have taken -see the intro- in which they all say that these techniques constitute torture? Right, because the fact that the entire planet said Saddam tortured should not be more important than the fact that Saddam himself emphatically denies those allegations.217.166.60.19 (talk) 18:28, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

That definition of "severe pain and suffering" was clarified by reservations upon ratification. The U.S. had learned by that time that none of its enemies (nor many of its allies) would be serious about these treaties when it mattered. I think they were proved correct, but that's a slightly different topic from this ruling.
Second, I certainly agree than anything can be taken too far. That does not mean that everything is torture. Here we have a judge ruling that it's torture only because it was taken too far. Considering the duration, there could be many lesser amounts possible without it being "torture". That is the judge's ruling, and you're the one who brought it up.
Third, I'm not ignoring the other institutions' opinions (although I don't agree that they really care about human rights). Most of them concentrate on waterboarding, and I said I was willing to put aside their opinions on that for now. It is the other techniques that I dispute are torture under the U.S. interpretation of the law.
The "entire planet" argument doesn't really means anything. That would include China, Russia, and every socialist and/or Islamist country on earth. Most of them will tell you they oppose torture, and none of them have the structures in place against actual torture that the U.S. has. (This very case is actually an example of that.) Then give a good look at the torture debate that's been going over the last few years, and notice how it's almost all anti-American. Then look at how much real torture has been going on during this same period, often while the very people who claim to oppose torture (such as various elements in the "peace" movement) are supportive of those who do the real unambiguous torture.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 21:51, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Frankly, Randy2063, we all have understood your views that torture is not torture because when it is short and light enough it is bearable -- and "harsh interrogation" is all about making things lightly and shortly, of course. I suppose that you also think that rape cannot exist because some people enjoy penetrative sex. The point is we do not care what you think.
I have a small library of books written by torturers: if I need to know what an attempt to excuse torture looks like, I have ample documentation which is better written than your editorials and is not historically insignificant.
This talk page is not a soapbox. It is a place to discuss how to craft the article depending on facts and relevant citations. I have repeatedly challenged you to provide significant opinion outside the Bush administration that the so-called "enhanced techniques" are not torture, and you have failed. Because of this, the so-called "enhanced techniques" are, as far as Wikipedia is concerned, as much torture than the methods of the Gestapo, the French paratroopers in Algeria, or the military juntas of South America. Stating otherwise without very good citations to this effect is akin to revisionism and will not be tolerated. Rama (talk) 23:03, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
You can say you're well aware of my views, but that's just as applicable to you, your views, and your interpretation of whatever documentation we have before us.
This section is discussing a judge's recent decision and where this judge said the techniques used in that one case are not torture until they were performed beyond certain limits.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 23:52, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Which is irrelevant to the discussion, since these "techniques" are used beyond any limit. If we had any suspicion that the CIA acts on a bottom basis of humanity, we could have invoked texts pertaining to The Troubles and the "five techniques". The record of the CIA being what it is, the point is completey moot. Rama (talk) 09:04, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
[3] is also sufficient to settle the matter. Rama (talk) 11:31, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that's where the judge agrees that it's torture when used beyond a certain limit. That means the techniques are not torture until that limit is exceeded.
The obvious solution is to say that they're not torture, and then have a section on the ruling.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 23:30, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Clarification. This is not a court ruling. This is the person in charge of military commissions explaining the reason for not prosecuting this alleged terrorist. Her view is that he was tortured. Period. Not because of any prolonged interrogation, but the combination of the techniques used. Note, as I mentioned before, the lack of time/duration in her statement. This brings us the following:

  • 1 The convening authority of military commissions states that these techniques together constitute torture,
  • 2 Numerous human rights organisations -see intro of article- state these techniques constitute torture,
  • 3, Given the advise to get rid of the Geneva Conventions as a legal loophole against prosecution and then the need to speedily, and retroactively, rewrite the War Crimes Act following SCOTUS' decission invalidating that loophole by immunising those involved, we know that the WH itself actively sought to get out of legal jeopardy regarding the treatment of detainees: i.e. the Geneva Convention.

In short, with all that has become public in the past years it is very difficult to understand why we should consider the opinion of a few lonesome wolves that face possible -though highly unlikely- prosecution, more important than leading authorities on jus in bello and IHL.217.166.60.19 (talk) 15:43, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Whether it was being prolonged or simply a combination of techniques doesn't matter. Nor does it so much matter right now whether she was acting as a judge or a prosecutor. Her decision says it's not the techniques themselves. She didn't even say she thinks all or most combinations would be going too far.
The opinions of so-called "human rights" organizations don't matter much. We've seen over the last seven years (and really decades before) that they have some considerable lapses in integrity. That's not to say I'd stop you from posting their opinions. Indeed, I want history to remember where these people stood.
You're mistaken about the rest. The Bush administration never said we'd get rid of the Geneva Conventions. The position was, upon reading Common Article 2, that they simply didn't apply to the war against Al Qaeda. That wasn't a lone wolf decision either. The lower court had agreed that the GCs didn't apply to this war at all, and it could have been upheld had one more SC Justice decided the other way. In the end, they still only ruled that Common Article 3 applied by itself, and nothing more. Given that, it's only appropriate that those who fight fascism are given the benefit of the doubt for the previous ambiguity. The MCA doesn't stop true war crimes from being prosecuted.
If we look back on the last seven years, it becomes clear that the Bush administration cares a lot more about human rights than any of those organizations. Those groups had many chances to speak out against war and torture, but they decided to do so only when presented opportunities to criticize the U.S., and almost never else.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:22, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

another break

I'm not getting into an edit war over this, but will remark here that calling it a "euphemism" is highly POV. That some critics of U.S. policy under Bush like to say it's a euphemism doesn't make it so. The three sources cited are all from reliably-left sources (that professor isn't neutral).

This article still has the problem where the word "torture" is applied throughout even though waterboarding is the only procedure on the list that's widely believed to be torture.

I don't know why you all think extreme bias can help your position. Some on the left who read this may nod their heads, but anyone else will laugh.

-- Randy2063 (talk) 23:56, 27 January 2009 (UTC)


From Euphemism: "A euphemism is a substitution of an agreeable or less offensive expression in place of one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the listener,http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Euphemism Euphemism Webster's Online Dictionary or in the case of doublespeak, to make it less troublesome for the speaker." Fits the bill perfectly, I reckon. Why are you talking about the left? Right-wing activists in the former Soviet bloc were well known to dislike torture and similar techniques that breached human rights. Lapsed Pacifist (talk) 13:24, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
The word "euphemism" would only fit the bill if that's what it was. Who believes the attention grab and slaps are "torture"? What other term would you apply other than enhanced interrogation techniques? These are clearly an extension of the normal list of methods. It's not a euphemism.
The source on euphemisms by columnist Jon Henley is obviously mere criticism of U.S. policy. The other terms on that list aren't really euphemisms either.
This article's misplaced Orwellian inferences are one sad but funny part about this: Just imagine what Orwell would say about this article. He fought the Fascists, and criticized his leftist friends when they gave comfort to the Nazis. Moreover, and most relevant, he took the language a lot more seriously than is being shown in this article.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:25, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
Since Randy2063 admits that torture is indeed practiced, in the form of waterboarding, I do not understand what he is arguing about.
I would like to debunk the statement that "waterboarding is the only procedure on the list that's widely believed to be torture":
1) the list of torture techniques used by the CIA is classified. Nothing allows you to state that only one "technique" qualifies as torture, you do not know what it contains.
2) some "techniques" which in themselves might not qualify as actual torture, become downright torture when used for prolonged time or in combination; the number of detainees in US custody who has diedsuffices to exclude that these "techniques" are used within acceptable boundaries.
3) beyond potentially "acceptable" techniques (sleep deprivation, prolonged standing, heat, cold, sensory deprivation or saturation), which the CIA uses so harshly that detainees have died under them, the "techniques" used by US organisations also include
  • waterboarding
  • deprivation of pain medication from wounded captives
  • cigarette burns
  • rape
  • beating, possibly to death (5 confirmed homicides, up to 20 suspected)
which constitutes torture anyway. Rama (talk) 14:01, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
I didn't say that waterboarding is always torture. I simply recognize that some perceptions aren't worth arguing with right now.
  1. I do know that the CIA's techniques are reviewed by lawyers.
  2. yes, legal techniques can become torture, but that's different. Otherwise anything can be called torture. (Giving a hamburger to a detainee could also become torture, but we wouldn't list that.) The article should state the difference clearly, rather than claim that these techniques are all torture.
  3. This article is about enhanced interrogation techniques that were approved by the U.S. government. That some lower echelons guards, interrogators, or civilian translators were abusive doesn't mean it belongs here. The U.S. had over a million troops in Iraq over the last few years. To mix criminal actions with the official techniques is silly, and unencyclopedic.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:25, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
I am taking about "techniques" used by so-called "interrogators" in Guantanamo, not by miserable grunts used as scapegoats. Since these so-called "techniques" include waterboarding, which even you cannot deny constitutes actual torture, I cannot see how you can pretend to defend your position.
Your rear-guard fight to keep calling a spade an enhanced spoon is not doomed, it is a violation of Wikipedia policies. Rama (talk) 12:27, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
No you're not talking about that. With the exception of waterboarding, those "techniques" you've just listed (rape, cigarrette burns, etc.) were never approved by any U.S. authority, even at the lower levels. And for the record, waterboarding was not used in Guantanamo.
The only claim of rape at a prison facility that I'm aware of is believed to have been by an Egyptian national working as a translator. No one seriously believes it had to do with interrogation.
And, again, I'm only giving you waterboarding for the time being because I know there's no hope for serious discussion about that with this crowd. That's all you have. Nothing else, by itself, is sure to be torture.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:49, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
You do not know whether these techniques have been authorised or not. You have no idea. They could very well be. The point is that they are used.
In any case, the question is closed: waterboarding is used, waterboarding is officially authorised, waterboarding is torture. Torture it is. Period. Rama (talk) 17:19, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
Wrong on both counts. I know that much of what you're saying is wrong simply by the fact that these claims are investigated, and prosecuted when a case can be made. We also have a list of approved techniques, and nothing approaching them is on it. We also know, through news reports, leaks, official reports and sworn testimony, that CIA and DoD lawyers have to approve these techniques, and that many techniques were never approved.
When you say I don't know whether these techniques have been authorized or not, what you really mean is that you don't know. Just because something happens in a movie doesn't mean it works that way in real life.
All you have is waterboarding. That's one item (and even that would be debatable elsewhere). Everything else you've said is your own opinion. Your claims of rape, cigarette burns, etc., are demonstrative of that. Your personal opinion doesn't belong in this article. As the editor below says, we should limit this to WP:V.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:56, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
The list of the "techniques" used by the CIA is classified. Whether another list is available is irrelevant. Indeed, I do not know what this list contains, and neither do you. What we can know, if we do not bury our heads in the sand, is what is being done by "interrogators".
We have one item, waterboarding, that even you cannot deny. This alone suffices to close the debate: the so-called "Enhanced interrogation techniques" are torture and you do not even deny it.
Rape, cigarette burns etc. are not my personal opinions, but can be found in The Torture Debate in America. Rama (talk) 13:06, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
That the list is classified does not make it okay to supplement the rest with conjecture.
Waterboarding is one item. Even if we assume that it's okay to call that torture simply because the whims of the public say so, that doesn't mean we can pretend that all of the reported techniques are torture. This is essentially what you're asking for.
I seriously doubt that your source is definitive. It certainly doesn't describe the list of authorized enhanced interrogation techniques, and that's what this article is supposed to be about. Just because some CIA personnel on the other side of the world might be accused by fascists of having done something doesn't mean it's one of the authorized techniques.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 20:38, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
Your list is classified, and therefore irrelevant. You do not know whether "waterboarding" is or is not on it, for that matters. What we can know is what is actually done, when it is witnessed and reported.
Stop using the term "fascist". It is imprecise and insulting. Many detainees of Guantanamo have not been charged at all, it is not acceptable to insult them as you do.
The incident to which I am referring have been reported by FBI agents [4] [5] [6] [7] [8].[9] Just for the record, are you calling them "whims of the public" and "fascists"? Rama (talk) 09:49, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
Your argument for the list being classified would make more sense if you wanted this entire article deleted. Yes, the list is classified, but we have sources from leakers within the CIA to reputable news organizations. They're pretty comprehensive.
Those FBI incident reports don't mean what you think they mean.
As I've explained elsewhere, there are different rules for interrogation. The most strict (and easiest on prisoners) are the military's regulations on interrogating prisoners who qualify for POW status. Non-POWs (spies, saboteurs, and terrorists) have a rougher time. The military's purpose is to gain information that can help win the war and prevent future attacks. They're not cops.
The FBI has its own standards. Their purpose is to bring a case to trial. This conflicted with the military's needs, and the military's standards, and that's the primary reason they complained.
The DoD investigated these reports. While they did find and address some problems, there wasn't anything substantal. Their response is covered here and here.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 15:52, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
The FBI agents started keeping files on possible war crimes committed in Guantanamo. It is not a matter of corporate identity here, but of law. The FBI agents were witnesses of abuses that they regarded to be torture.
Incidentally, I note that you have ceased to contest that the incident that I mentioned did in fact happen. Rama (talk) 22:22, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
The FBI handed everything over to the DoD. The DoD did pursue cases of unauthorized conduct, and those techniques that were authorized were not torture.
If you're talking about rape, cigarette burns, etc., I didn't contest the incident because I thought you stopped pushing it. Those things were not approved techniques, and they were prosecuted when evidence was available. In fact, in many of the transgressions that did occur, the guards or interrogators responsible often admitted they knew it was unauthorized. That means it's not a technique.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 02:42, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, but there are very proeminent cases which are not prosecuted and which trigger no sanctions. That means that the authorities tolerate them. Since the list of authorised so-called "techniques" remains classified and that the tapes of the "interrogations" were destroyed, we must rely on the information at hand, which contains numerous cases of torture.
Furthermore, waterboarding is clearly torture, was officially supported, and is apparently on this mysterious list. So there is absolutely no question here. Rama (talk) 10:38, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
What prominent cases were not prosecuted? You mentioned rape, but the only rape allegation I'm aware of was made by a prisoner who claimed to have witnessed an Egyptian translator raping a teenage kid. That case was pursued, but no one knows who the victim could have been. There were other claims of lesser sexual assault, but they were also investigated. They weren't related to interrogation anyway, and so they don't belong here.
The "remains classified" argument is bunk. The sources we have about these interrogation methods state that they are for the purpose of interrogation. Every reliable source we have needs to make that claim. To mix crimes and rumors of crime with interrogation is outright fraud. It's as though you don't have enough legitimate things to complain about.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:34, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
One instance of a case that was not prosecuted is that of Manadel al-Jamadi, who was found dead in a crucifixion ("Palestinian hanging") position after being left at the hands of a CIA agent.
What is you point about "for the purpose of interrogation"? The people tortured as Abu Ghraib were tortured to "soften them up"; the people held in Guantanamo and other "black sites" are interrogated in painful positions. That is "for the purpose of interrogation" all right.
I remind you that your entire defence is moot anyway because of waterboarding. Rama (talk) 09:08, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
I'll put my response at the bottom with the others.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 21:20, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

Shall we limit ourselves to policy which allowes sourced information and not what we opine?. As an aside, may I take your comment to mean "That some proponents of U.S. policy under Bush like to say it's not torture doesn't make it so?"206.122.102.52 (talk) 14:54, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Actually, yes. The sources we have only show that some people claim the name to be a euphemism.
Just as some critics represent one opinion, the CIA's lawyers also represent an opinion. There is one difference, however, in that the CIA's lawyers knew exactly how the procedures were implemented, and what limitations they would put on its use. They did so knowing they were subject to congressional oversight, and that representatives of both major parties would be reviewing the procedures. The critics (with the amusing exception of Nancy Pelosi) are really only guessing about some of these things.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:25, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
I think you misrepresent the facts: "some critics" refers in this case to almost every major human rights organisation, including the UN itself, that have called it torture. This is not a he said she said debate. (Well if it is we should mention the fact that one of those sides has a clear incentive to deny this is torture: criminal prosecution.) Clearly you keep ignoring/denying the obvious. Second, you appear to suggest that the fact lawyers offered their opinion by fiat means a) their advise is rock-solid, b) their advise is trustworthy. Maybe you might acquaint yourself with those legal minds that were hired to create all kind of legal justifications as to why the crime organisations in effect do nothing illegal: consiglieri anybody? Third, and most disturbing, is your view that when the US does it, it is not torture.206.122.102.52 (talk) 17:45, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
No, as I've said before, if you read their reports closely, these so-called "human rights" organizations use the word "torture" almost exclusively about waterboarding. As for whether or not they're being completely honest in their efforts, that's another story.
And no, I don't necessarily trust lawyers of any stripe. I'm just saying that DoD and CIA legal opinions are no less worthy than that of other lawyers. They are really more knowledgable because they have access to the complete information.
Calling them "consiglieri" is dead wrong. There are techniques and projects that DoD and CIA lawyers rejected over these last few years, including some that could have saved the lives of American troops. (And as I've said, they're still subject to congressional oversight.) The word consiglieri would more appropriately be applied to the GTMO lawyers.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:54, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
Factually wrong. "ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in an interview that the incidents described in the documents "can only be described as torture"", about exactions committed in Guantanamo (detainees "shackled to the floor in fetal positions for more than 24 hours at a time, left without food and water, and allowed to defecate on themselves") [10]. Rama (talk) 09:52, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
The DoD's response (linked above but here it is again) called this: "It was not considered to be overly abusive. There was no injury. There was no pain involved in this."
As I said above, and is stated in your source, the FBI's job was to build a case appropriate for a civilian court. The DoD's job is to fight a war. It's only natural that there would be disagreements on standards. An opinion from the ACLU is exactly that.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 15:52, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
What the department of Defence says is irrelevant to qualifying what Human Rights organisations say. I just gave an example of a Human Right organisation that very plainly qualifies the exactions committed in Guantanamo as torture. Given this example, you can not claim that only waterboarding was explicitely called torture by Human Rights organisations.
Incidentally, while I am not overjoyed with the idea of using the term "consiglieri" to qualify Yoo, Addington and co, they certainly did work as to give their patron legal excuses to proceed with their intended policy, a behaviour which has been noted to be peculiar for legal councils and to potentially breach the ethic code of lawyers. On the other hand, the lawyers who defend Guantanamo detainees are representing accused people before a court. From what I read in consiglieri, the former are closer to it than the latter; how do you construct this name calling against Lachelier and her collegues? Rama (talk) 22:22, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
I commented on the FBI's report, and gave you the DoD's response. I didn't want to waste time arguing about what the ACLU said they thought about things they haven't seen first hand before the DoD could even reply. They hadn't cited anything specific as torture anyway. If we give them the benefit of the doubt, they may just be thinking that the combination became torture, which is what one judge had said.
The GTMO lawyers are doing far more than just defending their clients to the fullest extent of the law. As I understand it, the ethics code frowns upon stoking public opinion instead of arguing their cases in court. These lawyers go further than that. They've hired a PR firm, and tried to stoke Arab anger against the U.S. It's one thing for lawyers to demand that their clients' rights are protected. It's quite another for them to undermine their country in order to increase the rights of an enemy beyond that which the law has allowed them.
Like it or not, this is a war. The Geneva Conventions don't say they're due a trial unless we charge them with something.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 02:42, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
Oh yes, the ACLU did qualify specific incidents to be torture: they reacted to the items reported by the FBI. You point about combination is moot, since these "techniques" are indeed used in combination.
It is not like the Bush regime did not engage in propaganda to support its own policies, which clearly are an assault on American values and undermine the fight against terrorist groups. The lawyers who defend Guantanamo inmates, on the other hand have been barred from seeing their clients and subject to other hindrances to the legitimate rights of defence under US law, which makes recourse to publicity an ultimate test of legitimacy of the judiciary process, rather than a cheap trick. I find your criticism singularly one-sided as it gives precedence to political attacks on the core of American, democratic and civilised values, over defence of the fundamental rights of defendants in a trial.
Whether it is war or not is irrelevant. The Geneva conventions apply to conflicts without formal war declarations (such as this one), and they provide protections against torture to all, either prisoners of war, or criminals. Now, the term "war" has been used in US propaganda since the attacks of the 11th of September 2001, and this has been used to dismiss the necessity to charge detainees, but this is inconsistent with the crimes of which the inmates of Guantanamo and other "black sites" are accused. Either they are not accused of anything and should be held as prisoners of war, with corresponding rights, until their actual status is determined and the non-combatants are released as swiftly as possible (a number of inmates of Guantanamo and other "black sites" were not combatants); or charges are brought against them, and they must be judged. And in absolutely no case can they be subject to torture. Rama (talk) 10:38, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
You've hit the nail on the head, Rama. Lapsed Pacifist (talk) 10:41, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
It is plain wrong for this article to confuse crimes with interrogation methods.
When the lawyers were barred from visiting their clients it was in accordance with the laws as they were understood at the time. If you'll note, they took that to court, which is how it's supposed to work.
The POW issue is effectively over. You lost that one a long time ago, and rightly so. The Supreme Court ruled that detainees are protected by the Geneva Conventions, but only by Common Article 3, which does not include POW status. That's moot anyway, as the Fourth Geneva Convention also allows detaining civilians without charges for as long as necessary.
The matter of war is quite relevant. Say what you like about the Bush administration but President Obama's AG nominee also agrees that enemy combatants can be held without charges, and without POW status, until the end of the war. A lot of other Bush legal critics have admitted that much.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:34, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
Ah ah, sorry, it is difficult to tell your "interrogation methods" apart from crimes. You mean that we should not confuse individual criminal behaviour with criminal behaviour upon orders.
Simply because the soldiers of Abu Ghraib who were told to "soften up" prisoners, and hence did act upon orders, could be used as scapegoats for the entire torture institution of the Bush administration does not mean that you can dismiss anything in the same way. Again (and again, and again), this point is made moot by waterboarding, an admirable institution in the sense that even you cannot deny it is plain torture, and State-sanctioned.
What exactly is it that I "lost" about the Prisoners of War status? What do you think you know of my opinions on the subject? (For the record, even though this is neither here nor there, my personal opinion is that Guantanamo detainees are not prisoners of war, but either common criminals or innocents). What I was saying is that people, whatever their status, cannot be subject to torture. Like waterboarding for instance. And no, the Fourth Geneva Convention does not say that you can snatch somebody and make him disappear at your discretion. Where was your copy of the Convention printed, Chile 1980?
The matter of war is indeed irrelevant with respect to torture, which is always a crime. And no, "enemy combatants" (what is this?) cannot be held without charges indefinitely without having the status of prisoners of war -- not in countries which abide by the rule of law. Rama (talk) 09:08, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
Al-Jamadi (referenced above) doesn't count. Someone was prosecuted for that. Men were held accountable to the fullest extent possible under the law. That no one was convicted of murder only means it wasn't possible with the evidence. If you'll note, it was a Navy SEAL who was prosecuted for murder, not the interrogator. That's because the autopsy determined it wasn't the interrogation that killed him.
The guards at Abu Ghraib were prosecuted. In fact, not only were they prosecuted, many were charged before the notorious pictures even became public. The "soften them up" claim was to divert the blame from themselves, and hope the so-called "anti-war" activists would eat it up, which they obviously did. Some of those soldiers eventually admitted interrogation played no part in it.
Your quick acceptance of the "soften them up" line is funny. It's ironic that whenever guards and interrogators are charged with crimes by U.S. military prosecutors, so many critics of the war are effectively siding with the ones who committed those acts.
Again, those particular prisoners were locked up for being criminals, not terrorists. Interrogation had nothing to do with those prisoners.
Uncomfortable positions may or may not be okay, but "painful positions" aren't authorized.
You ought to stop telling me that torture is prohibited. That's not the dispute here. I said I'd let waterboarding sit for a while. This discussion isn't about waterboarding. That's still only one method. The article can only say, for now, that one method is torture, the others are not necessarily so, unless used in excessive combinations. That's all we have reliable sources for.
You're wrong about a trial being required to detain non-POWs. The GCIV says they may be detained as long as military necessity requires. They only need "definite suspicion," which is why a competent tribunal doesn't require absolute proof. A full trial is required only if we charge them with something. And that's GCIV. Common Article 3 doesn't even go that far.
As I said, this wasn't only the Bush administration saying this. The Obama administration's AG and SG nominees both say they agree. The Supreme Court does, too.
If you want to say you care about the rule of law, you'll have to accept that sometimes the law doesn't say what you'd like it to say.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 21:20, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
As far as I know, the CIA interrogator who is responsible for Al-Jamadi's death was not trialed, was he? The SEAL were not present when Al-Jamadi died, though they did torture him before, and he did not die of the wounds they inflicted to him.
The Geneva Conventions do not permit people being tortured. They do not permit people disappearing. And they require that common criminals be trialed.
Waterboarding is torture, and waterboarding was supported by the Bush administration. This is enough not only to justify the formulation, but also to make it necessary. In Algeria, most French soldiers has nothing to do with torture; failing to say that the French tortured in Algeria would nevertheless be unacceptable. Most SS were nice chaps and gallant soldiers, but the SS nevertheless was a criminal organisation. Most prisoners in US custody were "not exactly tortured", but the USA have practiced torture. Period.
I do not "side" with people like Graner, but I do not accept that they be used as scapegoats for other crimes. There have been reports of abuses in different places, with consistant "techniques" used by the so-called "bad apples"; there have been documents authorising torture and blurring standards emanating from the highest levels of goverment; there have been people disappearing and dying under torture from Morocco to Indonesia. Why should one not suspect that the "bad apples" come from a "bad apple tree", just because the "bad apples" confirm it? That a criminal reports something in his defence does not make it automatically false.
Also, I'll point to you that you are accepting excuses and semantics ("enhanced interrogation techniques") of the SS and the Gestapo. If I was in your position, I would not try the "you are in a good company" argument. Rama (talk) 11:33, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Once again, Rama, you're right on the money. Lapsed Pacifist (talk) 12:33, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Did you read anything about this case? It's a bit tough to charge the CIA interrogator with murder after the medical examiner's report pointed to the SEALs. Do you really think the interrogator's lawyer wouldn't have that ME testify?
I don't know how you can say "he did not die of the wounds they inflicted to him." Did you read the ME's report? Or is there some ME criterion requiring someone to die immediately for it to be declared that they died of those wounds? Well, since Abraham Lincoln lingered for hours after being shot, I guess maybe you'll say it wasn't Booth who killed him after all.
A SEAL officer was charged with murder. Although he was acquitted, some of his men were punished, including a few who were reduced in rank. One of the many amusing ironies we've seen over the last few years is how often those who erroneously believe unlawful combatants should be innocent-until-proved-guilty can also be so reluctant to demand that same high standard of proof when Americans are on trial for murder.
Nobody ever said this is about keeping common criminals indefinitely without trial. It's about holding security detainees in accordance with the laws of war. No one is at GTMO for having only committed a common crime.
You can believe Graner's stories all you like. What you may have missed is that we know quite a bit about what happened, and most of that information really bears out my perspective, and not yours. The pictures we've seen were criminals being hassled by guards for fun, and not terrorists being interrogated.
The pictures we hadn't seen were reviewed by prosecutors, and by Bush-hating politicians. The evidence doesn't lead to the popular anti-American version of events.
You can stop arguing about waterboarding. This is about other methods that are not torture. You only have one method.
It's also amusing to see how people who dislike the term "fascist" rightfully being used to describe this enemy can be so quick to adapt Nazi imagery to harsh interrogation when used by Americans.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 17:16, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
It is neither here nor there, but yes, I did read the report. The SEAL tortured their prisoner by beating him to the point of breaking several of his ribs. This did not kill him. The circumstances of the death were not known to the physicians who wrote the report, and they later testified that knowing that the prisoner was being crucified would have been relevant.
Several people have been released from Guantanamo without being charged with anything. This is inconsistent with the tale of criminals so dangerous that even the risk of giving them a trial cannot be taken. And as things happen, people have said that it is about keeping criminals indefinitely without trial ([11] [12] [13] to cite a few. "Common" criminal is not a relevant dichotomy here, war criminals have to be treated like petty criminals would be.
I do not know what you are trying to say about Graner. Terrorists are criminals. Furthermore, criminals and Iraqi resistants were being held indiscriminately in Abu Grahib. Notably, Al-Jamadi was being held on suspicions of armed resistance to US occupation, so he would not be a "common criminal" by any standard either.
No this is not about "other methods", it is about waterboarding as well. Waterboarding is torture and suffices to qualify the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" to be torture.
"This enemy" (which enemy?) is not "fascist" by any standard, so calling it that contributes nothing to the point; I would rather say that it is a gratuitous insult to raise your own spirits, but this is really not the aim of this page. Similarly, I did not and will not say that the Bush administration has anything to do with the Nazi ideology; it simply uses similar tortures and the exact same terminology.
Anyway, I do not understand why you want to fight calling torture what it is. If really "no one is at GTMO for having only committed a common crime", if these people are all "terrorists" and "fascists", if waterboarding etc. are indicated, clearly, it means that, in your system of value, they deserve to be tortured. Do they not? You are not being soft on terrorism, are you? Rama (talk) 18:40, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
What you're saying now is that there's reasonable doubt that either the SEALs or the CIA interrogator were directly responsible, particularly in wartime circumstances.
That detainees are released from GTMO without charges means nothing. Here again, there could be reasonable doubt for many of these cases were they brought to trial. There are two different standards. It is perfectly legitimate in accordance with the laws of war to detain a prisoner in wartime based on a definite suspicion. A charge of war crimes demands much more than that. People who once claimed to care about the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war must understand that.
I'd be happy to call these techniques torture if that's what they were. You might have noticed that the term "enhanced interrogation techniques" is plural. That means there's more than one. Waterboarding is only one of them. You may presently say that's torture. We cannot let it be implied that the belly slap is "torture" simply because you think waterboarding is.
This isn't a matter of whether or not these fascists deserve to be tortured. It's about how far we can go in questioning them in order to win the war as efficiently and as soon as possible. Honest people can differ on where harsh interrogation ends and torture begins. The trouble is, too many people disagree on whether this war should be won and they let that color their views on whether the laws of war should apply.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 22:50, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

a third break

Dear Randy 2063, it's been two months now since the last edit, so I don't know if you are reading, this, nevertheless, I think this topic is important enough to leave a comment. If you are really doubting, whether the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" have to be considered as torture, I propose you engage in a little self-experiment, although this would have to be considered original research, nonetheless, this will be very illuminating:(Well I really don't advise you to do the following, because it could adversely affect your health, if you do this, then at your own risk, if you understandably don't want to take the risk, then it often is sufficient to imagine doing it).

  1. 1)Try kneeling on a hard surface, without sitting on your heels and with upright back. Measure the time you bear up. Standing up to go to the toilet means giving up. Imagine kneeling for extended period of time, say 24 or 48 hours - without sleeping and eating as well, of course.
  2. 2)Try the same experiment, but this time with standing.
  3. 3)Try to see how long you can go by without sleep. Measure the days you keep up. "Sleeplessness was a great form of torture: it left no visible marks and could not provide grounds for complaint even if an inspection-something unheard of anyway-were to strike on the morrow." [[14]]
  4. 4)Try sleeping naked on the floor and without a blanket. Turn the air conditioning down to at least 50°F (10°C). If you're really daring, take a cold shower before you go to sleep and don't towel yourself. Bear in mind that the victims of the cold cell technique are repeatedtly poured with cold water, and that it is possible to die of hypothermia. [[15]]
  5. 5)Try sleeping with loud music on. Sucessively turn the volume up.

After you end your (thought) experiment, reflect on to what extent the tested conditions qualify as torture.

I luckily was able to find an online source of Solzhenitsyn's account of chekist techniques used to "break the will and the character of the prisoner without leaving marks on his body" from "The Gulag Archipelago". It's a very informative read and relevant to the topic, since the torture methods resemble each other. [[16]]

Larkusix (talk) 02:07, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

Yes, it's a lousy situation to be in. But are these techniques legally considered "torture" when the CIA performs them overseas on unlawful enemy combatants?
That's the real question. It's not whether or not we'd prefer that these things not happen to us.
Let's not forget what torture is. It's things like this. I suggest you look at all 12 pages of pictures. The CIA's methods aren't even close.
(Incidentally, for those who'd wish to believe that torture never works, American POWs reported that it worked on them all too well.)
Even you must acknowledge that there is a line between real torture and harsh interrogation. Wherever you draw that line, I'm sure you'd prefer not to have to endure anything on that list either. And among that list of things you think we should imagine happening to us, you should add imagine being the victim of another attack. And before you say you'd gladly join thousands in dying for the principle that a fascist shouldn't have to endure a simulated drowning, consider that there are also many innocent Afghani (and Pakistani) children being killed in airstrikes because our intelligence wasn't always as good as some people still want it to be. My point is, rough interrogation is important.
BTW: I'm reverting your revert. I suggest you look at it closely. The text I removed was unsupported.
Enhanced interrogation didn't begin with the Bush administration. There's a paper available now (although still "forthcoming") going into some of the legal history. There was a short period when the CIA fell back on renditions but they had used EIT before that, with the possible exception of waterboarding. Their lawyers considered it to be legal -- and not torture in the technical sense.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 15:47, 8 May 2009 (UTC)
Whatever legal contortions the Bush administration made, the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" are considered torture by all relevant authorities. A debate whether torture can be justified is completely beyond the scope of this article, but if you want to morally defend the use of torture, please remember that the path to hell is paved with good intentions.
Nobody claims that the Bush administration invented the techniques, nor were the first one to use an euphemism for them (the term "verschärfte vernehmung", literally translated "sharpened interrogation", used by the Gestapo is sometimes proposed as predecessor of the phrase). What is claimed is, that the Bush administration _adopted_ the catchphrase as an euphemism for torture. [[17]] If you have evidence, that the expression "enhanced interrogation techniques" was used by any previous administration for the same or similar things, please present it here. A forthcoming paper is unfortunately no reliable source, since nobody can check its content.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146
Best regards, Larkusix (talk) 01:50, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
Wrong. Of these techniques, only waterboarding is considered "torture" by most relevant authorities (and even many of those authorities are suspect). They can be more hazy about the rest of the techniques.
You're also wrong in thinking I was justifying torture. I was explaining why interrogation methods were taken to the maximum permissible limit before it hits the definition of torture. Naturally, some people will disagree on what that precise definition is. (Often, the critics are the same people who ignore torture performed by their friends.) That's a different issue.
And you're wrong about saying no one claims that the Bush administration invented the techniques. Prior to my edit this morning (and again after you reverted), this article did try to imply that the Bush administration started the use of these techniques. Technically, it really only says that the Bush administration started calling it that, but you don't have any sources for this either.
We do know, however, that the CIA used most of these techniques for decades. If you want to say the Bush administration authorized them again, then sure, but don't try to tell people something that plainly isn't true.
The Gestapo thing is interesting but the source is a very poor one. Sullivan had recently embarrassed himself saying that the British didn't use these techniques when they obviously did use their own version, some of which were more harsh than what the CIA did. It's ridiculous to pretend that the Gestapo was any kind of an influence when we've had close ties to the British intelligence services.
It doesn't take becoming a monster to kill monsters, but sometimes it does take doing some unpleasant things to them. Like it or not, the monster needs to be killed.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 03:29, 9 May 2009 (UTC)