Friday, December 12, 2008

Proud to be an American?

Here's the lead from an AP story that came out late last night:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The physical and mental abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay was the direct result of Bush administration detention policies and should not be dismissed as the work of bad guards or interrogators, according to a bipartisan Senate report released Thursday.
The Senate Armed Services Committee report concludes that harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA and the U.S. military were directly adapted from the training techniques used to prepare special forces personnel to resist interrogation by enemies who torture and abuse prisoners. The techniques included forced nudity, painful stress positions, sleep deprivation and, until 2003, waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.

The chairman of the committee, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, called it "both unconscionable and false" that administration officials tried to blame the abuses on low-level soldiers, or "a few bad apples." Republican Sen. John McCain, perhaps America's best-known former prisoner of war, called the link between the survival training and U.S. interrogations of detainees inexcusable. Said McCain, "These policies are wrong and must never be repeated." Of course, an aide to former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld brushed off the report. But the story goes on to note that the Bush administration continues to use delaying tactics and sometimes has outright refused to allow members of Congress to see key legal documents and memos regarding the detainee program, including an August 2002 memorandum evaluating whether certain interrogation techniques proposed to be used by the CIA would amount to torture. These are exactly the kinds of things that make it tough for otherwise patriotic Americans to be proud of their country. And before you rush to defend the actions as necessary to break down "Godless terrorists," just think for a minute what our nation's collective reaction would be if we found out that some of our troops were waterboarded or stripped naked and physically abused. It's shameful, no matter who's doing it.



Blogger Ellipses said...

I don't know what's more surprising... the fact that THE UNITED STATES tortures people... or that those most staunchly in support of it is the Christian Right...

These are mystifying times we live in...

Anyone read "The Handmaid's Tale" ?
It's good.

December 12, 2008 at 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been clear to me for some time that people care more about the "rights" of the unborn than about those of the living. People starve and go untreated for diseases. Children are abused. Rights are denied because of skin color, gender, faith and sexual orientation. Justification can always be found for extremes, whether it be torture of elimination of entire races. The end justifies the means? Sorry, but no, it doesn't.

December 12, 2008 at 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then, I suppose we should just ask them for information, and make sure we get it by saying pretty please?

December 13, 2008 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Anonymous... that method would be more likely to yield ACTIONABLE data than torture... I have a high threshold for pain, as well as an extremely stubborn streak... If tortured, I'd probably admit to planning 9-11, being the "real" OJ killer, and being the shadowy figure on the grassy knoll...

There's interrogation... and then there is torture. We interrogate suspects in police stations, often yielding good, actionable data... Interrogate, don't torture.

December 13, 2008 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

"...harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA and the U.S. military were directly adapted from the training techniques used to prepare special forces personnel to resist interrogation by enemies who torture and abuse prisoners." In other words, they would do it to our soldiers. It doesn't make it right, but it doesn't make it fair either. We're dealing with an enemy that considers it an honor to blow oneself up, that to die for their cause will bring eternal rewards not possible here on earth. How do you work with that?

I'm not advocating torture. I do, however, firmly believe that you can't negotiate, bargain or haggle with these prisoners to get them to turn over information. And I know I'm going to get blasted for this, but being forced to stand naked in front of a woman isn't "torture." Nor is having a dog growling at a prisoner. These prisoners consider it an honor to die, so you have to use methods that work on them. If humiliation or fear elicits information, then use it. It's better than beating the hell out of them, waterboarding or other methods of torture that induce tortuous pain.

December 13, 2008 at 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You dare ask what would the American response be if our men and women were subjected to waterboarding? How about beheading? Brant have your forgotten what THEY have already done.

December 14, 2008 at 3:50 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

How about a different perspective on this... Let's say that YOU are an American fighting man or woman... You are stationed in Iraq. Your unit is going to raid a suspected terrorist hideout in Tikrit three days from now. You get captured/kidnapped...

Is there anything THEY could do to YOU to get you to give up the fact that the raid is planned three days from today? A raid that could potentially kill or detain a person who could potentially fly an airplane into your kids elementary school or a hospital or spray poison on a christmas parade or whatever... if they pour water up your nose, shit on a bible, or start cutting off fingers... are you going to tell them the truth? Or are you going to resign yourself to death and tell them something that will put them as far away from the planned raid as possible?

December 14, 2008 at 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ellipses - If that were the case and the captured prisoner misled you, strap a rock around his ankle and drop him in the ocean. He is not going to give credible info under any circumstances but he can become a decent meal for the fish.

December 14, 2008 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

So you're suggesting we start murdering prisoners if they don't provide good information? Wow. That's crazy.

December 14, 2008 at 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, what I am saying is that if a tortured prisoner does not provide good info, he never will. He is totally useless in that regard. You want to keep him imprisoned until he decays, fine. Not much different than dumping him in the ocean. You still don't get the information you seek.

December 14, 2008 at 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I'm being tortured and think I'll be killed or kept in prison the rest of my life no matter what I say, why should I tell the truth? Why should I believe an enemy that I have been trained from childhood to mistrust? If we want to get decent information out of these people, why not use the Mafia tactic of threatening their family members? Or are we too "civilized" to do that? Or could it be that no matter what we do, we won't get reliable information out of them? Maybe if our intelligence community would do its job correctly in the first place, we wouldn't have to torture.

We've lost the moral high ground, and our denying that torture is torture doesn't restore it.

December 16, 2008 at 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read "The Crucible" I found the above an interesting comment. When did we become so puritanical?

"Why should I believe an enemy that I have been trained from childhood to mistrust?"

This story of the Salem witch trials, pointing fingers, torture, loss of identity, imprisonment and Mccarthyism may be a stretch but indulge me. I can't help but compare. Our Christian Right has indeed used the bible as the basis for so many simple decisions all the while justifying every action as with a bible verse. Even soft-spoken individuals recite biblical rhetoric in a beautifully musical manner when presented with a socially challenging situation. This makes it all good, right? Peace of mind follows. "God says this so it is right and if you believe you will be in heaven" or verse "blah, blah" from the book of "Old dude who may or may not have lived over 2000 years ago" says that this group should be condemned because they like the color navy blue. Are we all still sheep herders or have times changed?!

We are taught to hate, discriminate, judge, whatever from a young age and many of these "ideals" repeat generation after generation because of what is taught form the "good" book. While I think it "is" a good book, our interpretation of it has become twisted. This interpretation has led many to torture and kill but yet they remain Christian and those Christians that say nothing and let these terrible things occur are just as terrible. Ahh, the power of religion. While I am against torture, what these "proud" soldiers did and/or who directed them is unforgivable. I wonder if they were taught puritanical, christian ideals from a young age. If the Catholic ones went to confession are they forgiven?

There's a song that goes "Careful the things you say, children will listen..." Better get off my soap box. I'm not very good at this stuff and my hip hurts.

December 17, 2008 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Actually, you are very good at this stuff, anonymous. Your comments were very insightful, and most welcome.

December 18, 2008 at 10:14 AM  

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