Sunday, November 11, 2007
  Torture or not?

Who thinks "waterboarding" isn't torture? Show of hands, people. Now, are you people freaking nuts? As it has been explained by experts (i.e., those who've experienced it) it is basically simulated drowning. Now, I'm not a great swimmer. In fact I'm a pretty poor swimmer, and there've been times, especially when I was younger, that I found myself in over my head. Literally. I can remember the sheer terror of those moments. The fear. The panic. The frantic, desperate struggle to get my heard back to the air. Now if someone forced that kind of experience on me, I'd sure call it torture.

Second, those who've experienced this, even in a "safe"' training environment have declared that they would have done or said anything to make it stop. Anything. That makes any information gained from such tactics dubious at best. Given all the above why is there any debate on this subject?

It's not torture, sure, I would raise my hand to say that. There is even a guy who called up the Michael Savage show and said that he would be willing to undergo it to prove that is the case.

But more importantly is the question WHO CARES. How soon Americans forget what they did to the building you work at. How soon do they forget all the captured Westerners who the enemy just cut their heads off of as they scream.

You know what keeps me up at night. Thinking about the decision so many had to make that infamous day in September not so long ago. Should I jump to my death or be burned alive? I can't even imagine such torture.

So, if we have to torture to get the information that would stop having one American to make that decision I say torture away. That's how we won World War II.

As for waterboarding, yeah its tough, but it is like keeping a prisoner up all night. Hardly torture compared to what they have done to Americans.
"...declared that they would have done or said anything to make it stop."

As a member of the US military I hope you wouldn't "do anything" to make it stop.

But if this is indeed the case what it proves is that it is an effective tactic. A tactic we can't afford not to us in order to get information that can save the lives of Americans.

Tying the hands of our intelligence agents played a significant part in us not being able to stop the events of September 11th. Are we going to make the same mistake again? Who is going to pay the price if we do. Who is going to have to decide whether to jump to their deaths or be burned alive because we are afraid to get our hands dirty.
"one who is merciful to the wicked will one day be wicked to the merciful."

We must show NO MERCY to the terrorist scum! We must have mercy to their potential victims!

1. Citing Savage and his callers lends no weight to your argument. He's a lunatic fringe nutcase.

2. There is no justification for wrongdoing. Period. We are Americans. We must hold the moral high ground. The day we don't is the day we deserve whatever we get.

If we are willing to lower ourselves to the level of our enemies then we are no better than they. And if we are no better than they are then who cares if we win or lose. If we are willing to be as evil and vile as they are then the world has as much to fear from us as they do them.

3.Yes, part of what won WW II was incinerating thousands of innocent civilians in the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo and nuking thousands more in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Guess what, that was wrong too. Anyone who's been to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and seen a footprint burned into a child's shoe or a human silhouette scorched into concrete steps can tell you that. If we had lost the war our leaders would have been hung for war crimes. And rightly so.

(In 1947 the United States charged a Japanese officer with war crimes for waterboarding an American civilian. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. What's good for the goose...)

4. Torture, including waterboarding, is NOT an effective interrogation tactic. It has been proven that most information gained through torture is bogus info of no value. Most of the terrorists have been trained to give a believable sham story when they are tortured. Former CIA officer Bob Baer said "It is bad interrogation. I mean you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough."

5. Waterboarding has been used throughout history by the Spanish Inquisition, the Japanese and Nazis in WW II, the French in Algiera, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Is that really the company you want our beloved country to keep? Not me.

Sorry Phil & Greg, you are dead wrong. Waterboarding is torture and torture is unAmerican. Period.
With an attitude like yours no wonder that America hasn't really won many wars since WWII.

It really, really scares me that you work where you do but it also explains a lot about why the war is going so poorly.

If we are really at war then we need to fight it to win. If it isn't worth doing whatever it takes to win the war, then the war wasn't worth fighting in the first place.

By the way, I wonder if you can look in face the family of the next victim of Islamic terror who we couldn't save because our "high morals" didn't allow us to get the vital information in time.
And with an attitude like yours, Greg, it's no wonder that our country has sunk so low morally and ethically.What war has the American military ever lost? Korea was a victory - we preserved the sovereignty and freedom of the South Korean people. We were winning in Vietnam until Walter Cronkite and our politicians decided it was lost and pulled the rug out from under our troops. Desert Storm was a victory and had politicians not held us back would have prevented OIF. OEF will be a victory as will OIF...unless politicians and peaceniks surrender for us.

The fact that I work where I do has nothing to do with the progress of the war. (Which we are winning, by the way.) I provide communications capability. I don't set policy.

You are correct when you say, "we need to fight it to win." You are sadly mistaken in what that means. It does not mean murder, torture, or other inhumane behavior. It means giving our military anything and everything they need to wim the war with honor. If that means more equipment, twice as many troops or new leadership, then so be it. But it does not mean lowering ourselves into the same gutter our enemies wallow in.

No ends will ever justify immoral or inhumane means. Nothing is worth doing "whatever it takes" to win. If you think it does then you are no better than the Islamofascist monsters we fight and you are certainly not worthy of this country.
Our most successful war was World War II and it was won exactly in the way you so disdain.

Yes, you do have to become the monster to defeat the monster, in fact you have to be a little worst. But what makes us different than our enemy is why we fight.

The Greatest Generation knew that. General William Tecumseh Sherman knew that. And we better learn that very quickly if we are going to defeat the Islamofacists.

By the way I believe Michael Savage was the one who first used to word Islamofacist. And it was his program director or someone like that who said that he would be waterboarded. We have to see if that comes to past but regardless we can't take such an effective tool out of the hands of our interrogators. After all these Islamofacists aren't going to give up their secrets if you just ask nicely.
World War II was won by men who were willing to die in the cause of freedom to defeat totalitarian ideology. The Japanese were prepared to surrender before we dropped the bombs. Dropping the bombs was not necessary to win the war. The bombs were dropped so Truman could intimidate the Soviets and as revenge on the Japanese.

What makes us different is not just why we fight but also how we fight. You do not have to become a monster to defeat a monster. I wish you could hear yourself. Your words and ideas are disgusting to any civilized person and to any true American.

William Sherman was no hero. He was a war criminal and had he been on the losing side he would be remembered as such.

I could care less who the first one to use a term was. Michael Savage is a neocon, right wing fringe nut. And whenever his program director or whoever is actually waterboarded and not just shooting of their mouth we might listen. Until then their words are empty, as are yours.

Torture is not an effective tool. Torture does not yield valuable intelligence. This has been proven and is the opinion shared by most experts on interrogation and intelligence gathering. (By the way, Bush, Cheney, Hayden and Savage aren't experts.)
You know I know you must have studied this more than I which is why I find it so scary that you are wrong.

The Japanese were not prepared to surrender before we dropped the bombs. Heck, it was touch and go whether they were going to surrender after we dropped the bombs.

The Emperor wanted to surrender but there were those in the military who even tried to stage a coup in order to continue the war.

Here is how it played out. At a government meeting with Emperor Hirohito, the emperor stated that the war should end. He recorded a radio message to the Japanese people saying that they must "bear the unbearable." During the night, begining about 2300 hours, a group of army officers led forces numbering over 1000 in an attempt to steal the recording and prevent it being broadcast but failed to overcome the guards at the Imperial Palace. Coup leader, Major Kenji Hatanaka, who killed the commander of the imperial guard, committed suicide after its failure. The Japanese decision to surrender gets transmitted to the Allies but as you see it could have gone the other way and they could have continued to fight.

And again, this was after the bombs were dropped. And there was still a great numbers within the Japanese Leadership who didn't want to surrender. Before the bombs were dropped there was no way that the idea of surrender would have ever been acceptable to the Japanese.

And remember, absent the bombs the only option would have been to continue with the invasion of the Japanese homeland. That had already started on the southern most island of Japan, Okinawa in March of 1945 with a military operation that lasted until June.

Yes, we were victorious in overtaking Okinawa, but at great cost. American losses were over 72,000 casualties, of whom 12,000 were killed or missing. No doubt we would have been victorious had we continued with our invasion of the Japanese homeland, but it doesn't take a military genius to realize we would have taken enormous casualties in that effort.

And of course even one dead US soldier is one too many when presented with other options. I am sure American leaders didn't give it a second thought. The only question they had to ask themselves was would dropping the bombs save more US lives than not dropping them. And especially with Okinawa fresh in their minds the answer to that question was more than obvious.

So, everything you said about the surrender of Japan is wrong. And you work at the Pentagon. God save us!
Your preferred version of the events certainly fits your agenda. Of course, history is written by the victors isn't it? And the victors never face the consequences of their actions against the enemy either.

Japan was moving toward surrender months before the Potsdam Declaration was made. In fact, steps in that direction were seen as early as spring of 1944. (That assessment came from the US Strategic Bombing Survey in 1946.) The Japanese government never planned to reject the surrender demand. They were waiting for Soviet mediation and clarification of surrender terms when the first bomb was dropped.

Several of Truman's military advisors believed that neither invasion nor the bombs were necessary to force the surrender of Japan and end the war, including Admiral Leahy, and Generals Eisenhower, Arnold and LeMay. General Eisenhower later said, "It wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."

Nagasaki was not a legitimate military target. It was predominantly Catholic and civilian. It was bombed because the primary target, shipyards at Kitakyushu, were clouded over.

The atomic bombings of Japan were terrorist acts of a magnitude beyond 9/11. The bombs terrorized the world into accepting the absolute power of the military, and the country, which owned and used them.

All of which, by the way, has nothing to do with the fact that waterboarding is torture and torture is immoral and wrong.
"And remember, absent the bombs the only option would have been to continue with the invasion of the Japanese homeland."

Absolutely false. The concensus view among US leadership was that the defeat of Japan and surrender could be achieved through conventional air and naval warfare. Preparations for land invasion were made only as a last resort.

Thanks for playing.
Even through conventional air and naval warfare we would have suffered more casualties than we did by dropping the bombs.
Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said "We fight on their level. With trickery, brutality, finality. We match their evil."

"There is no honorable way to kill. No gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war except its ending."

And after all we a fighting to prevent another 9-11 or something worst from happening.
William Sherman was no hero? He ended one of the most bloody wars in US history. That makes him a hero in my book
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?! You didn't quote Abraham Lincoln. You just quoted "Star Trek" as an authoritative source. I guess that's what happens when you get all your knowledge from Google & Wikipedia. Maybe I should counter with some President Jed Bartlett quotes. You have lost what little credibility you might have had to continue this debate.

OIF was not about preventing another 9/11. The purpose of OIF was to rid Iraq of Saddam and his alleged WMD. The stated purpose should have been to free the people of Iraq from a brutal and sadistic dictator. Because we based our argument for war on a rationale that became impossible to prove or disprove we lost the legitimacy of our efforts.

Now we are in a war that we must finish but that we cannot convince the American people or the world to invest themselves in because we are not fighting the war we claimed to be starting.

Let me quote a friend of mine. "By holding ourselves to higher standards, by accepting that there is real risk associated with freedom, we used to be in a place where, if we ever needed to kick the s*** out of another country, we could do so with something akin to a purity of motive, and the understanding that even when we won, we would treat our enemies fairly and according to international agreement.Now, we’ve completely lost any moral standing in the world, and rightly so.

If Iraqi insurgents flew airplanes into the Empire State Building TODAY, would NATO invoke Article 5? Would the world unite behind us?


But hey, pay no attention to anything I say. Just quote some more Star Trek at me.


General Van Tien Dung and Walter Cronkite also ended one of the bloodiest wars in US history. You must consider them heroes as well.
"Torture is not an effective tool. Torture does not yield valuable intelligence."

Oh, the terrorist might lie the first time but after suffering the consequences of the lie, that changes quickly.

Soon the terrorist would give up his own mother just to get the pain to stop. They would rather die than suffer anymore pain. And that is when the good information is revealed. And after we are done, we can dispose of the terrorist.

Yeah, cruel, but needfully so. And remember who we are dealing with here and what they would do to us if given half a chance.
"I mean you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture is bad enough."

But that isn't the purpose of the torture. We don't want the terrorist to confess. We want the terrorist to give up information on what they are planning. And that information can be checked with other resources to see if it checks out and if it doesn't then make the terrorist suffer more until he gives up good information.
Walter Cronkite a hero James?
Please! He was a disgrace and a forerunner of American "yellow journalism".

I must admit that I don't agree with your take on water boarding and torture.

American, and other lives are worth at least that.
Clay, you should know me better. If you'll reread the string of comments you should plainly see I was not calling Cronkite a hero. Far from it. I was sarcastically pointing out the inanity of a commenter saying Sherman was a hero by virtue of his "ending one of the most bloody wars in US history."

If that is the criteria for heroism then Conkite and NVA General Van would also have to be considered heroes as they also "ended one of the most bloody wars in US history." Of course they were not, and Cronkite should have been charged with giving aid and comfort to the enemy for his reporting of the Tet Offensive which directly contributed to our loss of national will to prosecute the war to victory.


Regarding torture: "American, and other lives are worth at least that."

Subjective and debatable. But, whether they are or not, a linchpin in the issue is whether torture even works. If it doesn't work then it is not a method to save lives. It is just torture. I've read enough testimony to make me doubt it's value as an interrogation and intelligence gathering tool.

It's like spanking. If spanking will teach a child how to behave and make him want to be a better person then it is effective discipline. If it doesn't help the child, or makes the child behave worse, or is done because the child "deserves it" or to make the parent feel better then it's not discipline. It's just a beating - and that makes it wrong.

If torture is effective in getting accurate, actionable information from an individual then it is an effective technique. (Which still doesn't make it wrong or right.) If it just makes the subject give false information or a canned story in order to stop the torture, or if it's done just because we think "they deserve this and worse" and it makes us feel better then it's not intelligence gathering. It's just torture - and that makes it wrong.
Post a Comment

<< Home

Keeping the Faith

My Photo
Location: alexandria, Virginia, United States

Retired from the US Air Force after more than 20 years of service. Now working as a contractor for various government agencies.

E-mail RightFace!

Blogs I Read
  • - In My Right Mind
  • - From Behind the Badge
  • - Championable
  • - The Dawn Patrol
  • - The BoBo Files
  • - Breakfast At Tiffany's
  • - Not Fainthearted
  • - ABBAGirl 74
  • - RennRatt
  • - From My Position - Capt. Chuck Z.
  • - Michael Yon - Dispatches from the Front
  • - DadManly
  • - BlackFive
  • - Captain's Quarters
  • National Review
  • Weekly Standard
  • TownHall
  • Blue Eagle Columnist Round-Up
  • Max Boot, Council on Foreign Relations