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God's Politics


Chuck Gutenson: Christians and Torture

posted by God's Politics

I participated in the National Religious Campaign Against Torture rally and press conference held on Capitol Hill yesterday. Here are some excerpts from two very short talks I gave. The first asserts that it is “an unconditional aspect of Christian faith that torture is always immoral.”

The biblical injunction to love our enemies, the fact that our bearing the image of God requires that the dignity of every human person be taken seriously, and the recognition of our own fallibility provide basic theological underpinnings for why Christians must not fall prey to the temptation to try to justify the use of torture. There are some behaviors that, quite simply, are never justifiable, and we must recapture the realization that torture is one of those morally unjustifiable practices.

The second asks, “On what basis are we normally assured that torture of detainees is an acceptable practice?”

If a detainee has information that might make it possible to prevent a terrorist act that would cause pain or death to a great many, then we may use any means we deem necessary to extract that data—including torture. You have all heard the argument, right? But does this justification really work? Does the scenario wherein we have captured a bad guy that we know has relevant information really fit with experience?
Sadly, in our entertainment-oriented society, we find that telling stories where this scenario is dramatically portrayed is particularly effective for drawing high ratings. Even more sadly, one member of the Supreme Court of the United States recently responded to the torture question not by appealing to hard fact, but rather by asking what jury would convict Jack Bauer. Thereby, this Supreme Court justice conflated reality and drama in such a way as to create the illusion that a scenario from the hit TV series “24” was an accurate representation of the world in which torture is used. Every torturer, then, is justified because the payoff will be the same as we see on TV. But is this really the case? As best we can tell, the answer is no, for at least three reasons.

Read the full post about those three reasons, including this quote from South African Bishop Peter Storey:

There is a price to be paid for the right to be called a civilized nation. That price can be paid in only one currency—the currency of human rights. … The rule of law says that cruel and inhuman punishment is beneath the dignity of a civilized state. … We send a message to the jailers, interrogators, and those who make such practices possible and permissible: “Power is a fleeting thing. One day your souls will be required of you.”


Chuck Gutenson is a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary and blogs at www.imitatiochristi.blogs.com



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kevin s.

posted June 27, 2007 at 4:54 pm


24 is not an accurate representation of how and when torture is used. It is not used in ticking time bomb scenarios, per se, but neither does it involved removing fingers and the like. What jury would convict a man who scares a man with dogs in an effort to find a plot to bomb a ship?



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JimII

posted June 27, 2007 at 5:25 pm


Unfortunately, presidential candidates use 24 as an example for justifying torture. So, you’re going to be stuck with the comparison.
Whether a jury would convict someone or not, using dogs to scare someone does not get good information from them. It gets them to tell you what you want. That is not always the truth.
Again, torture does not produce good information.
So, it is ineffective and immoral. It makes us wicked and for nothing–like most wicked things, I suppose.
Do we need to make people scared of the use of torture before they will accept this truth? That would be unfortunate.
I’d like to see someone ask the presidential candidates, “If there was a hurricane about to strike a major US city, would you throw a virgin into a volcano? I mean, surely the life of one virgin is not as important as the hundreds that would be killed by the hurricane.”
my blog



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neuro_nurse

posted June 27, 2007 at 5:28 pm


“What jury would convict a man who scares a man with dogs in an effort to find a plot to bomb a ship?”
That scenario presumes the guilt of the person whose dignity and bodily integrity is being threatened by dogs.
5 Reasons Torture Is Always Wrong
And why there should be no exceptions.
David P. Gushee
Christianity Today
February 1, 2006
http://www.wrrcat.org/WRRCAT%20curric/2-Religion/Gushee-CT-2006.pdf (warning: 3.21 MB file!)
1) Torture violates the dignity of the human being
2) Torture mistreats the vulnerable and violates the demands of justice
3) Authorizing torture trusts government too much
4) Torture dehumanizes the torturer
5) Torture erodes the character of the nation that tortures
Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. (2297)
In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors. (2298) Catechism of the Catholic Church
http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt3sect2chpt2art5.htm
Peace!



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justintime

posted June 27, 2007 at 5:28 pm


Let’s listen to Kevin, self styled expert on obtaining actionable intelligence by working outside the margins of the Geneva Convention, as he obfuscates another issue.



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justintime

posted June 27, 2007 at 5:34 pm


Neuro nails it again.



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Payshun

posted June 27, 2007 at 5:55 pm


Go Neuro
p



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neuro_nurse

posted June 27, 2007 at 5:57 pm


Before we get into the argument about what constitutes torture (threatening with dogs, sleep deprivation, ‘stress positions’, et cetera), I propose the following litmus test:
Would American accept such treatment of our soldiers?
BTW, “they (would) do it to us” does NOT make it okay to do to them.
Peace!



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Kevin S.

posted June 27, 2007 at 6:20 pm


“Would American accept such treatment of our soldiers?”
We wouldn’t accept any sort of confinement or restriction of liberties. This argument doesn’t get you there.



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Payshun

posted June 27, 2007 at 6:23 pm


Kevin said:
We wouldn’t accept any sort of confinement or restriction of liberties. This argument doesn’t get you there.
me:
THat’s not true. We have no problems giving up liberties if the appearance of safety is conveyed.
p



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kevin s.

posted June 27, 2007 at 6:31 pm


“Unfortunately, presidential candidates use 24 as an example for justifying torture. So, you’re going to be stuck with the comparison.”
Right, but my point was that the writer was comparing apples to oranges. Jack Bauer is cutting off fingers because bombs are going to explode. We are scaring people with dogs to obtain evidence that might prevent such an attack down the road.
“Let’s listen to Kevin, self styled expert on obtaining actionable intelligence by working outside the margins of the Geneva Convention, as he obfuscates another issue.”
How was my comment obfuscating anything? At any rate, if you are suggesting that we leave obtaining actionable intelligence to the experts, that is precisely what I am advocating.
But again, the debate is not really about whether torture is desirable, but what constitutes torture. You can argue that question, but to pretend that it is settled is disingenuous.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 27, 2007 at 6:46 pm


“We wouldn’t accept any sort of confinement or restriction of liberties. This argument doesn’t get you there.”
By the same token, we would not accept death as a potential outcome of military service, but people who go into the military and their families accept that risk (or should be prepared to accept that risk). Being taken captive during a battle is also recognized as a potential risk. Mistreatment of our soldiers is not considered a normal consequence of military service.
“the debate is not really about whether torture is desirable”
The topic of this thread is Christian attitudes towards torture. I know you’re not Catholic, but I’ll stand by the Church’s position on torture.
In addition to Gushee’s 5 reasons why torture is wrong, JimII brought up a valid point:
“torture does not produce good information.”
Peace!



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justintime

posted June 27, 2007 at 6:46 pm


“How was my comment obfuscating anything?
But again, the debate is not really about whether torture is desirable, but what constitutes torture. You can argue that question, but to pretend that it is settled is disingenuous.”
Right there you just obfuscated again, Kevin.
You must think the Geneva Conventions are “quaint”.



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Dr. Strangelove

posted June 27, 2007 at 6:53 pm


General Jack D. Ripper: Were you ever a prisoner of war?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Well, yes I was, matter of fact, Jack, I was.
General Jack D. Ripper: Did they torture you?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Uh, yes they did. I was tortured by the Japanese, Jack, if you must know; not a pretty story.
General Jack D. Ripper: Well, what happened?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Oh, well, I don’t know, Jack, difficult to think of under these conditions; but, well, what happened was they got me on the old Rangoon-Ichinawa railway. I was laying train lines for the bloody Japanese puff-puff’s.
General Jack D. Ripper: No, I mean when they tortured you did you talk?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Ah, oh, no… well, I don’t think they wanted me to talk really. I don’t think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having a bit of fun, the swines. Strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras.



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Wolverine

posted June 27, 2007 at 6:54 pm


Justintime, Neuronurse:
If I might turn the question around: what interrogation methods would you permit?
Wolverine



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Jeff

posted June 27, 2007 at 7:13 pm


Justintime,
Civility please.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 27, 2007 at 7:23 pm


“It is DoD policy that:
3.1. All captured or detained personnel shall be treated humanely, and all intelligence interrogations, debriefings, or tactical questioning to gain intelligence from captured or detained personnel shall be conducted humanely, in accordance with applicable law and policy. Applicable law and policy may include the law of war, relevant international law, U.S. law, and applicable directives, including Army Field Manual (FM) 2-23.3 (Reference (k)), the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (Reference (l)), instructions or other issuances. Acts of physical or mental torture are prohibited.
3.4.4.4. “Military working dogs, contracted dogs, or any other dog in use by a government agency shall not be used as part of an interrogation approach nor to harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce a detainee for interrogation purposes.”
Department of Defense Directive 3115.09, November 3, 2005
http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/d3115_09.pdf
Tuesday 26 September 2006
United States Senate
Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Arlen Specter, Chairman
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, Ranking Democratic Member
Dear Senators:
We write as experienced intelligence and military officers who have served in the frontlines in waging war against communism and Islamic extremism. We fully support the need for proactive operations to identify and disrupt those individuals and organizations who wish to harm our country or its people. We also recognize that intelligence operations, unlike law enforcement initiatives, enjoy more flexibility and less scrutiny, but at the same time must continue to be guided by applicable US law.
We are very concerned that the proposals now before the Congress, concerning how to handle detainees suspected of terrorist activities, run the risk of squandering the greatest resource our country enjoys in fighting the dictators and extremists who want to destroy us—our commitment as a nation to the rule of law and the protection of divinely granted human rights.
Apart from the moral considerations, we believe it is important that the Congress send a clear message that torture is not an effective or useful tactic. As noted recently by the head of Army Intelligence, Lt. Gen. John Kimmons:
No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that.
Our nation was created in response to the abuses visited on our ancestors by the King of England, who claimed the right to enter their homes, to levy taxes at whim, and to jail those perceived as a threat without allowing them to be confronted by their accusers. Now, 230 years later, we find our own President claiming the right to put people in detention centers without legal recourse and to employ interrogation methods that, by any reasonable legal standard, are categorized as torture.
We ask that the Senate lead the way in upholding the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence and affirmed in the Geneva Conventions regarding the rights of individuals and the obligations of governing authorities towards those in their power. We believe it is important to combat the hatred and vitriol espoused by Islamic extremists, but not at the expense of being viewed as a nation who justifies or excuses torture and incarceration without recourse to a judicial procedure.
The US has been in the forefront of the human rights campaign throughout the 20th century, led by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. The end of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust inspired the United States to take the lead in making the case that human rights were universal, not parochial. Until recently the policy of our country was that all people, not just citizens of the United States, were entitled to these protections. It is important that the world understand that we remain committed to these principles. In fighting our enemies we must wage this battle in harmony with the traditional values of our society that were enshrined in the opening clause of the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident….”
Respectfully yours,
CIA Officers:
Milton Bearden, Directorate of Operations
Ray Close, Directorate of Operations
Vincent Cannistraro, Directorate of Operations
Philip Giraldi, Directorate of Operations
James Marcinkowski, Directorate of Operations
Melissa Mahle, Directorate of Operations
Paul Pillar, Directorate of Intelligence
David MacMichael, Directorate of Intelligence
Melvin Goodman, Directorate of Intelligence
Ray McGovern, Directorate of Intelligence
Mary O. McCarthy, DCI professional staff
US Military and Department of Defense:
W. Patrick Lang, (Colonel, US Army retired, Director Defense Humint Services, retired)
A. D. Ackels, (Colonel, US Army, retired)
Karen Kwiatkowski, (Lt. Colonel, USAF, retired)
US Department of State:
Thomas R. Maertens, Deputy Coordinator, Office of Counter Terrorism, US Department of State
Larry C Johnson, Office of Counter Terrorism, US Department of State
Federal Bureau of Investigation:
Christopher Whitcomb, Hostage Rescue Team
http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/64/22776



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Payshun

posted June 27, 2007 at 7:34 pm


Kevin said:
But again, the debate is not really about whether torture is desirable, but what constitutes torture. You can argue that question, but to pretend that it is settled is disingenuous.
ME:
What’s really disingenuous is the question of what constitutes torture? The methods that our government, Jack Bauer and others use constitute torture by any objective analysis.
p



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justintime

posted June 27, 2007 at 7:39 pm


Wolvie: “If I might turn the question around: what interrogation methods would you permit?”
The intent behind the Geneva Conventions is clear for virtually everyone except the chickenhawk Bush administration and their armchair supporters.



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justintime

posted June 27, 2007 at 7:55 pm


JimII:
“Whether a jury would convict someone or not, using dogs to scare someone does not get good information from them. It gets them to tell you what you want. That is not always the truth.
Again, torture does not produce good information.”
A very good account of successful interrogation methods used by Israeli intelligence officers appeared a few years ago in the Atlantic Monthly – when the Abu Ghraib atrocities first came to light.
Intelligent interrogation methods employ cleverness instead of brutality and do not violate the Geneva Conventions.
This has been confirmed over and over by experienced interrogators.



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Wolverine

posted June 27, 2007 at 8:16 pm


justintime wrote:
The intent behind the Geneva Conventions is clear for virtually everyone except the chickenhawk Bush administration and their armchair supporters.
Okay, if the Geneva Conventions are so clear, then you should have no trouble with the following hypotheticals:
1. Refusing to serve halal meals.
2. Barking dogs.
3. Exposure to cigarette smoke.
4. Exposure to Carrot Top.
5. Psychological manipulation. (ie deception, “good cop/bad cop”)
6. Sleep deprivation.
7. Environmental manipulation (for example, cell kept unusually warm or cold, but not at dangerous levels)
8. Threats of torture or violence, made plausible by simulated sounds of torture from nearby cell.
9. Marathon interrogation sessions.
10. Threats of war-crimes charges.
11. Manipulation of religious beliefs.
12. Finally, a hypothetical from 24. Jack Bauer captures a terrorist operative who has a family in an unnamed middle-eastern country. With the cooperation of that country’s government, the terrorist’s family is rounded up and the terrorist is told that they will be killed if he does not tell what he knows. At one point the terrorist is shown a satellite feed of his oldest son being executed. We are later shown that the son’s death was faked.
Now, I’m willing to concede that 24 is fiction, and Jack Bauer has a remarkable talent for spotting terrorists. But the hypothetical is not all that unrealistic, certainly we have the technical ability. The question for you is — does faking the death of a family member constitute torture?
Wolverine



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neuro_nurse

posted June 27, 2007 at 8:27 pm


“If I might turn the question around: what interrogation methods would you permit?”
“The direct approach is the questioning of a source without having to use any type of approach. The direct approach is often called no approach at all, but it is the most effective of all the approaches. Statistics tell us that in World War II, it was 85 percent to 95 percent effective. In Vietnam, it was 90 percent to 95 percent effective. The direct approach works best on lower enlisted personnel as they have little or no resistance training and have had minimal security training. Due to its effectiveness, the direct approach is always to be tried first. The direct approach usually achieves the maximum cooperation in the minimum amount of time and enables the interrogator to quickly and completely exploit the source for the information he possesses. The advantages of this technique are its simplicity and the fact that it takes little time. For this reason, it is frequently used at the tactical echelons where time is limited.”
http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/policy/army/fm/fm34-52/app-h.htm



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justintime

posted June 27, 2007 at 8:28 pm


Wolvie, “The question for you is — does faking the death of a family member constitute torture?”.
It sounds like it would be outside the Geneva Convention but I’m willing to let the International Tribunal for War Crimes decide on this.



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justintime

posted June 27, 2007 at 8:42 pm


Wolvie:
“Okay, if the Geneva Conventions are so clear, then you should have no trouble with the following hypotheticals:
1. Refusing to serve halal meals.
2. Barking dogs.
3. Exposure to cigarette smoke.
4. Exposure to Carrot Top.
5. Psychological manipulation. (ie deception, “good cop/bad cop”)
6. Sleep deprivation.
7. Environmental manipulation (for example, cell kept unusually warm or cold, but not at dangerous levels)
8. Threats of torture or violence, made plausible by simulated sounds of torture from nearby cell.
9. Marathon interrogation sessions.
10. Threats of war-crimes charges.
11. Manipulation of religious beliefs.”
Israeli interrogators report success with method number 5 – psychological manipulation and deception, no brutality involved.
Do you think the other methods you cited would be effective in obtaining actionable intelligence?



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Wolverine

posted June 27, 2007 at 9:33 pm


justintime,
With the possible exception of #4 I suppose any of the techniques I listed might work. A lot would depend on the psychology of the prisoner. In the right circumstances, even Carrot Top might work. With a prisoner who has been trained in resisting interrogation, we might find that none work.
Anyway, you seem to be okay with psychological ploys like the good cop/bad cop routine. Now let me follow up a bit: the bad cop is supposed to make threats so the good cop can offer to get the prisoner off the hook in exchange for information.
What kinds of threats can the bad cop make? Can he threaten execution for war crimes? How about threatening the prisoner’s family?
Can the team resort to “special effects” to make the bad cop’s threats more plausible?
Can the team use longer interrogation sessions to establish the good cop/bad cop dynamic more thoroughly?
Wolverine



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neuro_nurse

posted June 27, 2007 at 9:42 pm


justintine & wolverine,
The Global Security page I cited above has descriptions of the interrogation methods you are discussing. It includes the strengths and weaknesses of each of the methods and which types of people with whom they are likely to be successful.
In its descriptions of some of the more harsh techniques of interrogation, it warns interrogators to be careful to observe the Geneva Convention.
Peace!



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justintime

posted June 27, 2007 at 10:19 pm


http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/policy/army/fm/fm34-52/app-h.htm
Excellent reference, neuro.
Professional interrogators answer Wolvie’s tricky questions.
This should be required reading for all those contemplating the use of torture, along with the following:
The Geneva Conventions and Protocols define and outlaw the use of torture.
The War Crimes Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. § 2441) makes it a criminal offense for U.S. military personnel and U.S. nationals to commit war crimes as specified in the 1949 Geneva Conventions. War crimes under the act include grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. It also includes violations of common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; …outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.
A federal anti-torture statute (18 U.S.C. § 2340A), enacted in 1994, provides for the prosecution of a U.S. national or anyone present in the United States who, while outside the U.S., commits or attempts to commit torture. Torture is defined as an “act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control.” A person found guilty under the act can be incarcerated for up to 20 years or receive the death penalty if the torture results in the victim’s death.
Is this clear?



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Wolverine

posted June 27, 2007 at 10:32 pm


justintime:
Yes, I remember all of this from before. I have no doubts that 95 percent of the time our interrogators follow these procedures and go no further. But I doubt that you would be satisfied if we said that we only tortured five percent of detainees.
Anyway, if the law is clear, then you should have no trouble applying it to hypothetical situations. So why not answer the questions?
Wolverine



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justintime

posted June 27, 2007 at 10:51 pm


You could probably find answers to your own questions by reading neuro’s reference.
Better answers than I could give.



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justintime

posted June 27, 2007 at 10:54 pm


Wolvie:
“I have no doubts that 95 percent of the time our interrogators follow these procedures and go no further.”
You don’t know this and I don’t think you’re very interested in finding out the real truth.



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kevin s.

posted June 27, 2007 at 11:08 pm


“THat’s not true. We have no problems giving up liberties if the appearance of safety is conveyed.”
I don’t think you have been following the discussion. We have very problem with our troops giving up liberties of any kind at the hands of enemy combatants. That is because they are enemy combatants.
“Right there you just obfuscated again, Kevin.”
So you don’t know what the word means. Got it.
“What’s really disingenuous is the question of what constitutes torture? The methods that our government, Jack Bauer and others use constitute torture by any objective analysis.”
Can a question be disingenuous, by definition? If this question is off limits, then I wouldn’t expect to make much progress for your viewpoint.
Perhaps, but certainly not in this case. You just lumped our government’s actions in with a fictional character. We are not cutting off fingers, so the question is relevant.
“chickenhawk Bush administration and their armchair supporters.”
This statement is meaningless unless you are willing to submit to military rule. I can guarantee you that the non-chickenhawks are at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum.
“It sounds like it would be outside the Geneva Convention but I’m willing to let the International Tribunal for War Crimes decide on this.”
So, we have to allow an international tribunal decide, ex post facto, whether our military has violated the law? I don’t think any reasonable person is interested in that.



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Wolverine

posted June 27, 2007 at 11:27 pm


justintime,
You’re the one who thinks that the law is crystal clear, not me. If you are right you should be able to give me straightforward answers based on the Geneva Convention and US statutes.
You want to argue law? Then argue the law. Either that or admit you really don’t know.
Wolverine



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justintime

posted June 27, 2007 at 11:56 pm


“So, we have to allow an international tribunal decide, ex post facto, whether our military has violated the law? I don’t think any reasonable person is interested in that.”
Military courts have already tried and sentenced a few soldiers at the very bottom of the chain of authority who were actually committing the atrocities.
The International Tribunal should try the real war criminals at the very top – those who dismissed the Geneva Convention as “quaint” and established the policy that flowed down the chain of authority to the untrained and inexperienced National Guard (and regular army) troops at the bottom.
There are a lot of Americans who would like to see that happen.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:04 am


“This statement is meaningless unless you are willing to submit to military rule. I can guarantee you that the non-chickenhawks are at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum.”
You mean non chickenhawks like Colin Powell and other military officers who have spoken out in public against the Bush policies of torture?
And what do you think the Supreme Court had to say about charging or releasing so-called “enemy combatants” who have been denied habeas corpus?



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:11 am


“You’re the one who thinks that the law is crystal clear, not me. If you are right you should be able to give me straightforward answers based on the Geneva Convention and US statutes.”
Answer your own questions, Wolvie.
Don’t waste our time on hypotheticals.
If you’re unsure whether your proposed interrogation method violates the Geneva Convention, then I wouldn’t do it. You could end up being tried as a war criminal.
Did you read neuro’s reference?



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:20 am


Wolvie, Many of your proposed interrogation methods are downright sadistic, gratuitous cruelty, ineffective and a waste of time.
Blowing cigarette smoke at the detainee?
Something you’d expect to see on a teevee crime show.
C’mon, get real.



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Sarasotakid

posted June 28, 2007 at 5:14 am


We wouldn’t accept any sort of confinement or restriction of liberties. This argument doesn’t get you there. Posted by: Kevin S. |
Red herring, false argument and consistent mode of argument to change the subject when you are patently wrong.



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Sarasotakid

posted June 28, 2007 at 5:29 am


You don’t know this and I don’t think you’re very interested in finding out the real truth. Anonymous
You’re right. When you’re blinded by the arrogance of power and drunk on the heady wine empire, these become abstract concepts. You can see that in statements like, “But I doubt that you would be satisfied if we said that we only tortured five percent of detainees.”
It is sad to see how those who at the end of the day support torture have traded their Christian ethic for a wrong-headed despicable ideology.



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moderatelad

posted June 28, 2007 at 8:47 am


As ‘we’ strain at the urban miths of torture at Gitmo. Let us not loose sight of how the other side values human rights. Startings with rape and other acts of love and kindness all the way to beheadings on video tape to be aired on their version of Entertainment Tonight.
Blessings on all –
.



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Wolverine

posted June 28, 2007 at 9:15 am


An anonymous poster wrote:
Answer your own questions, Wolvie.
Don’t waste our time on hypotheticals.
If you’re unsure whether your proposed interrogation method violates the Geneva Convention, then I wouldn’t do it. You could end up being tried as a war criminal.

I went to law school, passed the bar, and practiced law. I can tell you that law professors use these sorts of hypothetical questions to illustrate how the law is applied. Lawyers use hypotheticals to illustrate arguments, and judges sometimes use hypotheticals to explain their reasoning. Hypotheticals are not a waste of time. They are a valuable tool for interpreting law. And that is supposed to be what we are doing here.
If the law is as clear as you say it is, then you should be able to answer these questions without too much difficulty.
Did you read neuro’s reference?
Yes, of course I did.
I found it interesting for what it did not say: It did not claim to be an interpretation of Geneva, and consequently I don’t think we can assume that anything beyond what is described there constitutes a war crime.
Wolverine



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Wolverine

posted June 28, 2007 at 9:53 am


Now, here’s why I think you won’t answer my hypotheticals.
You are perfectly comfortable, sitting in front of your monitors, slamming about the Bush administration and posing as the defenders of human dignity and international law. As long as it’s kept abstract it’s easier for you to be above it all and maintain your air of moral supremacy.
Granted, hypotheticals are not actual cases, and lawyers have been known to come up with fairly implausible scenarios. But they are a step away from the abstract and towards the concrete, and that is a step you appear to be afraid to take.
You fear specifics because once you get into those you have to talk about more concrete things: the arguments get less abstract and closer to real. Situations that might actually happen, dangers that soldiers might actually face, decisions that commanders in the field might have to make. And rulings that judges might have to make, applying the law and trying to do justice to both actual prisoners and actual defendants.
And it’s possible (I’m not accusing anyone right now, just pointing out the possibility) that some of you have another agenda, one you are less eager to talk about, or that you may not even be fully aware of yourself. Talking about specifics makes it more likely that this other agenda will be revealed.
In short, if you can’t handle a few hypotheticals, there’s a good chance you can’t handle the real world either. Your blanket refusal to consiider hypotheticals shows me that you aren’t serious, and have no confidence in yourselves or your principles.
Wolverine



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Eric

posted June 28, 2007 at 10:01 am


The problem with the whole torture debate is that everyone has a different definition of torture. It’s one of those things that’s easy to label when you see it but a lot harder to define. The question at the Republican debate where they asked people to raise their hand if there opposed torture was ridiculous. It didn’t tell me one thing about what the people on the stage think.
I oppose torture and don’t think it should be used. But what is torture? Is it ripping off someone’s fingernail? I’d say, yes. Is it beating someone badly? I’d say, yes. Is it electro shocking someone? Yes, again. But how about making someone sit in an uncomfortable chair for multiple hours? Or sleep deprivation? Or desecrating a holy book in front of someone? Or giving someone deflated soccer balls to play with (yes, a detainee in Guantanamo made a case out of this). I don’t think these last few are torture, but there are definitely civil rights attorneys out there who will make a case for them being torture. This is where the problem lies; the definition. Show me a definition of torture that isn’t ambiguous and I’ll shut up.



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paul

posted June 28, 2007 at 10:29 am


Chuck,
Would you be prepared to take on the responsibility for securing the intelligence necessary to keep the US safe under the terms and conditions you specify? If not, the moral integrity of your critique evaporates.
cheers, Paul



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Rick Nowlin

posted June 28, 2007 at 10:45 am


Let us not loose sight of how the other side values human rights. Startings with rape and other acts of love and kindness all the way to beheadings on video tape to be aired on their version of Entertainment Tonight.
Paraphrasing John McCain, “It’s not about THEM — it’s about US.” That is, we set the standard, and if they don’t follow along they look like the bad guys. To do like them lowers us to their level.



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Sarasotakid

posted June 28, 2007 at 10:49 am


As ‘we’ strain at the urban miths [SIC] of torture at Gitmo. Let us not loose SIC] sight of how the other side values human rights. Startings [SIC] with rape and other acts of love and kindness all the way to beheadings on video tape to be aired on their version of Entertainment Tonight. Blessings on all -Posted by: moderatelad
So I take it to mean that since they are engaged in horrible acts, we need not worry whether our government is engaged in similar acts? Pointing out the obvious, i.e. what they are doing, does not in any way excuse our actions if they are wrong.



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Sarasotakid

posted June 28, 2007 at 10:53 am


Would you be prepared to take on the responsibility for securing the intelligence necessary to keep the US safe under the terms and conditions you specify? If not, the moral integrity of your critique evaporates.cheers, Paul Posted by: paul
That line of reasoning goes about as far with liberals as the line of reasoning that if you are for the war, you should volunteer to go fight it, goes with the conservatives.
It is truly sad to see how blase our society has become about these issues. Maybe it’s a product of over-stimulation by the media. Regardless, people of every political color should be outraged by what has gone on in Iraq and at Gitmo. Instead they point out how much worse the enemy is. Sad, so sad.



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Harris

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:05 pm


Discussion of interrogation techniques (aka Torture) really cannot be done without reference to the change in US policy that emerged in the Vice President’s office (see Monday’s Washington Post). What is clear from the article is that the change in policy — the policy that Wolverine is so zealous to defend — was also vehemently opposed by others in the administration. This is not a Bush policy but a Cheney diktat.
As to efficaciousness, over the years Mark Bowden has written two important articles The Atlantic, detailing both the limitation of interrogation techniques, as well as how sophisticated US interrogators can be in getting the information they need. That information is there.
What is remarkable about the enhanced interrogation techniques is their
origin: we basically reverse-engineered techniques practiced or presumed to be practiced by the Soviets in the Cold War. The same practices we denounced as torture we now embrace.
In short, we have techniques that were opposed by the armed forces, pushed upon them by the Vice President, have been singularly ineffective and have corrupted our nation’s reputation for justice. How then should we call them good?



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kevin s.

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:06 pm


“Military courts have already tried and sentenced a few soldiers at the very bottom of the chain of authority who were actually committing the atrocities.”
Which atrocities? The illegal ones? Yes, I think illegal activites ought to be prosecuted, and they are… In our military courts.
“The International Tribunal should try the real war criminals at the very top – those who dismissed the Geneva Convention as “quaint” and established the policy that flowed down the chain of authority to the untrained and inexperienced National Guard (and regular army) troops at the bottom.
There are a lot of Americans who would like to see that happen.”
There are a lot of Americans who would like to see Elvis resurrected and elected pope. I think you are referring to Abu Ghraib, which is a different discussion altogether.
What you originally said was that you were unsure which methods of interrogation were acceptable, but that you would leave that in the hands of an international military tribunal to sort out. I think you were simply being cavalier, but the implications of that would be astounding. Troops who are doing their duty in (for example) Iraq could be deemed in violation of international law, then sentenced. I can guarantee you that such an idea would not have popular support in America.
“You mean non chickenhawks like Colin Powell and other military officers who have spoken out in public against the Bush policies of torture?”
Again, the question is whether you want military officers making these decisions. I mean all military officers, not just the ones who side with you in this particular matter. That is why the chickenhawk argument is meaningless. Can we only elect former military personnel to the presidency? If we don’t, are they forbidden from military recourse? That is silly.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:21 pm


“You are perfectly comfortable, sitting in front of your monitors, slamming about the Bush administration and posing as the defenders of human dignity and international law. As long as it’s kept abstract it’s easier for you to be above it all and maintain your air of moral supremacy.”
We are getting into a discussion of ethics now.
In general, Christian ethics are based on the deontological model – we are to “do the right thing” regardless of the consequences.
Consequentialism, on the other hand is a system whereby actions are judged on the basis of their outcome. “The good of the many outweighs the good of the few.” ‘Situation ethics,’ which has been rejected and severely criticized by most Christian denominations, is a form of consequentailism.
One of the classic situational arguments is the hypothetical ‘life raft’ scenario: A life raft is adrift at sea and sinking. The only way for some of the passengers to survive is to throw one person overboard.
I am definitely not a strict deontologist. I believe that Joseph Fletcher’s defence of situation ethics was seriously flawed (Fletcher argued that an abortion could be justified on the basis a positive outcome for those involved – but Fletcher neglected to consider the welfare of the fetus), but that as a method, situation ethics has its place in Christian decision-making (my opinion).
Torture, while it may apear to have immediate benefits for “the many,” has long-term consequenses that I believe are not fully considered. I read a news article recently that linked increased violence against relief workers in developing countries to the Iraq war. That may not mean much to the average Joe sitting behind his computer monitor, but as someone who is planning a career in relief work in developing countries, that has serious implications.
Peace!



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neuro_nurse

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:28 pm


“There are a lot of Americans who would like to see Elvis resurrected and elected pope.”
Do I even need to say this? (no, it’s silly anyway)
Elvis wasn’t Catholic.



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kevin s.

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:29 pm


“The problem with the whole torture debate is that everyone has a different definition of torture.”
This isn’t the problem with the debate. It is the debate. What constitutes torture, and where do we draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable interrogation. This debate is only complicated to the extent that we ignore this central question.
Ignoring the question is politically motivated. If we can simply declare the debate over, and say that we have been torturing people, then we get to what many on the left really desire, which is to pounce on a president of the opposite party. Hard to do that when you are in the weeds about how many barking dogs constitute a torture device.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:41 pm


Wolverine, “I went to law school, passed the bar, and practiced law.”
There should be an opening in Gonzales’ DOJ for someone with your ideological leanings.
You’d have to be confirmed by the Senate, though.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:47 pm


“Hard to do that when you are in the weeds about how many barking dogs constitute a torture device.”
3.4.4.4. “Military working dogs, contracted dogs, or any other dog in use by a government agency shall not be used as part of an interrogation approach nor to harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce a detainee for interrogation purposes.”
Department of Defense Directive 3115.09, November 3, 2005
http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/d3115_09.pdf



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 12:59 pm


Just because Wolverine poses a few borderline ‘hypotheticals’ does not nullify the Geneva Convention, the Federal Anti-Torture Act of 1994 and the War Crimes Act of 1996.
The atrocities at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the secret torture centers around the world are not borderline incidents.
The intent behind these documents is unassailable.
Do they explain the meaning of ‘intent’ in law school?



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Harris

posted June 28, 2007 at 2:03 pm


Another recent article worthy of consideration in this discussion is Seymour Hersh’s article on the investigation of Abu Ghraib and how General Taguba was stymied in his investigation.
Again, it must be recognized that the turn to these techniques was not born of military necessity, or of military desire, but from the decision by those in or associated with the Office of the Vice President (Cheney, but also Addington, Yoo and as an accessory, Gonzales and Rumsfeld). This was a change in the United States policy, as such those who advocated for that change and defend it now are responsible for demonstrating that it has indeed made our nation stronger, safer, and more respected. Pretty clearly, it has failed.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 2:24 pm


Link to the New Yorker article referenced above by Harris:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/06/25/070625fa_fact_hersh
The General’s Report by Seymour Hersh
What do you have to say after reading this article?
Wolverine?
Kevin S.?



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Gina B.

posted June 28, 2007 at 2:25 pm


I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer before I clicked on the comments link for this article, that I wouldn’t find Christians defending torture.
God said, “No” to that one.
Maybe torture is too big a picture or too hazy a target to nail down. Can Christians agree that the changes in our policies initiated by the recent administration should not be supported? Can we agree that using techniques we called torture when they were committed by an enemy just a few short decades ago, is not acceptable? That violating our own rule books on the subject is “close enough” to torture that we can get past our partisan leanings and home team spirit to say, “Enough.” Can we at least agree on that?
I’ll keep praying.



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kevin s.

posted June 28, 2007 at 2:48 pm


“3.4.4.4. “Military working dogs, contracted dogs, or any other dog in use by a government agency shall not be used as part of an interrogation approach nor to harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce a detainee for interrogation purposes.””
Well, there you go. Problem solved. But really, my point was not about the dogs, per se .
“The atrocities at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the secret torture centers around the world are not borderline incidents.”
Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are entirely different issues.
“What do you have to say after reading this article?”
What do you have to say? Analyze the stuff you read, and argue based on what you have learned. Don’t just throw a link on a page and pretend that you have made an argument. If this thread were just a series of links back and forth, it would be completely useless.
GIna:
“I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer before I clicked on the comments link for this article, that I wouldn’t find Christians defending torture.”
You pray that people won’t disagree with you?
“Maybe torture is too big a picture or too hazy a target to nail down.”
Not at all. The problem is that we are not making any effort to nail it down. In order to oppose something, we have to have a clear idea of what it is.
“Can Christians agree that the changes in our policies initiated by the recent administration should not be supported?”
Which ones?
“Can we agree that using techniques we called torture when they were committed by an enemy just a few short decades ago, is not acceptable?”
Which ones?
“That violating our own rule books on the subject is “close enough” to torture that we can get past our partisan leanings and home team spirit to say, “Enough.” Can we at least agree on that?”
What is in the “rule books”, where have we violated it? Depends on what you are talking about.
“I’ll keep praying.”
Meh, pray for starving kids in Africa, or for a good husband (or for your existing husband to be better). Don’t worry about the people who disagree with you.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 5:22 pm


Pathetic post, Kevin.
Just pathetic.



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Eric

posted June 28, 2007 at 5:34 pm


Kevin S – Good point about what the debate is responding to my post. We’re essentially in agreement. Until everyone can come to an agreement on what is and isn’t torture (if that’s possible) the rest of this discussion is pointless.
So let’s start there – can anyone here (Harris, nurse, Wolverine, Sarasota, annoying dude who doesn’t bother to type in a name?) come up with a definition of torture that isn’t completely ambiguous about what it is???? Anyone???



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Greg M. Johnson

posted June 28, 2007 at 5:42 pm


But again, the debate is not really about whether torture is desirable, but what constitutes torture. You can argue that question, but to pretend that it is settled is disingenuous.
The line of unsettlement, let the record show, is down the middle of the Republican party, with civilized Europe and the tradition of the Church historic on the McCain side of the argument.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 5:45 pm


I’m gonna go with the Geneva Convention definitions.
Do you have a problem with that?
What is the problem, exactly?
Chapter and verse please.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 28, 2007 at 5:46 pm


“Well, there you go. Problem solved. But really, my point was not about the dogs, per se.”
I was waiting for that
“This Directive:
2.5. “Does not apply to interrogations or interviews conducted by DoD law enforcement or counterintelligence personnel primarily for law enforcement purposes. Law enforcement and counterintelligence personnel conducting interrogations or other forms of questioning primarily for intelligence collection are bound by the requirements of this Directive.”
Nice loophole, eh? As long as it’s for ‘law enforcement’ and not for gathering intelligence, it’s okay to torture!
I’m not one to tell you how to feel, but if I would be uneasy about my values if I found out that an ‘interrogation technique’ that I thought was acceptable was prohibited by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Peace!



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kevin s.

posted June 28, 2007 at 5:48 pm


“So let’s start there – can anyone here (Harris, nurse, Wolverine, Sarasota, annoying dude who doesn’t bother to type in a name?) come up with a definition of torture that isn’t completely ambiguous about what it is???? Anyone???”
I’ll take a stab. I think torture is something that inflicts great bodily harm, generally including damage that lasts more than one or two days. Removing fingernails qualifies. Waterboarding does not. Breaking one’s nose qualifies, slapping does not. This is how torture is generally defined, so I don’t see where the Bush administration is sneaking something under the rug here.
“Pathetic post, Kevin.
Just pathetic.”
Well, that hardly raised the bar.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 5:59 pm


“This is how torture is generally defined, so I don’t see where the Bush administration is sneaking something under the rug here.”
Very good Kevin.
Anything that goes away after one or two days is OK?
Anything short of organ failure?
How about sexual humiliation?
Electroshock to the genitals?
Vicious Dogs?
What do we do if someone drowns during waterboarding?



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kevin s.

posted June 28, 2007 at 6:29 pm


“Anything that goes away after one or two days is OK?”
Generally.
“Anything short of organ failure?”
No.
“How about sexual humiliation?”
I think the psychological degradation from sexual humiliation CAN lat well beyond two days, depending. Further, it forces our troops to engage in sexual behavior.
“Electroshock to the genitals?”
This creates burns that last beyond two days.
“Vicious Dogs?”
Apparently they are forbidden. Personally, I don’t have a problem, unless they bite someone, which violates my rule obviously.
“What do we do if someone drowns during waterboarding?”
What do we do if someone dies from a slap to the face? If there is a chance that it will result in death, we shouldn’t do it, for ethical and pragmatic reasons.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 6:35 pm


You’re hired Kevin.
Pack your bags.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 28, 2007 at 6:42 pm


“can anyone here come up with a definition of torture that isn’t completely ambiguous about what it is?”
I thought I had already done so. Let me recapitulate:
“Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2297, June 27, 2007 5:28 PM
(“physical or moral violence.” That seems pretty clear cut to me, but I’m not the one who wants to split hairs about the definition of torture)
“Would American accept such treatment of our soldiers?” June 27, 2007 5:57 PM
(id est, if our soldiers were subjected to a particular form of interrogation, would we consider it torture?)
“All captured or detained personnel shall be treated humanely, and all intelligence interrogations, debriefings, or tactical questioning to gain intelligence from captured or detained personnel shall be conducted humanely” (and dogs are out!) Department of Defense Directive 3115.09, November 3, 2005, June 27, 2007 7:23 PM
(Maybe it’s just because I’m a nurse, but ‘humane treatment’ seems intuitive and not the least bit ambiguous)
Also, please refer to the DoD document and Global Security page on interrogation techniques I cited above.
That’s what I said, what did Jesus say?
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44
“If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.” Luke 6:29
Now, I know I’m going to catch some flak for that last one, but let’s remember two things:
1) We were not attacked by Iraq.
2) With very few exceptions, none of the men who have been ‘detained’ have been convicted of a crime.
Finally, I’m going to throw this one in not only because it makes me glad that I’m Catholic, but I believe that we can only torture people who we believe are somehow less human than we are:
“The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 841.
The people with whom we have gone to war and imprisoned are not our enemies and do not deserve to be treated as such.
An atheist his whole life, W.C. Fields was asked why on his deathbed he was paging through the Bible. He replied, “Just looking for loopholes.”
I’m not.
Peace!
P.S. obfuscate: transitive verb: 1 a: DARKEN b: to make obscure 2: CONFUSE
intransitive verb: to be evasive, unclear, or confusing.
kevin, I happen to agree that you have engaged in obfuscation in your responses on this thread.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 6:48 pm


bravo, neuro.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 6:54 pm


Just for clarification, the following post was from my boss, Alberto Gonzales.
“”This is how torture is generally defined, so I don’t see where the Bush administration is sneaking something under the rug here.”
Very good Kevin.
Anything that goes away after one or two days is OK?
Anything short of organ failure?
How about sexual humiliation?
Electroshock to the genitals?
Vicious Dogs?
What do we do if someone drowns during waterboarding?”
sorry for the confusion, JY



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 7:01 pm


“Alberto: “What do we do if someone drowns during waterboarding?”
Kevin: What do we do if someone dies from a slap to the face? If there is a chance that it will result in death, we shouldn’t do it, for ethical and pragmatic reasons”
I agree, Kevin, slapping is what I recommend for unruly children.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 7:11 pm


Loopholes, Kevin, Loopholes
The elusive spondulix



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canucklehead

posted June 28, 2007 at 8:40 pm


my fine Yankee friends….
torture, schmorture
I say force ‘em to watch an evening of Jack Van Impe or read a Left (or Right) Behind volume or three and you’ll have ‘em eating out of your hand within an hour.
There is torture and then there is torture, laddies.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 9:19 pm


Hey there canucklehead,
Cruel and unusual, no doubt.
And yet, it would probably be OK under the Geneva Convention.
There’s torture and then there’s tortured logic, eh?



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Anonymous

posted June 28, 2007 at 10:19 pm


Kevin S.
You’re so smart. I hate it when you are deliberately obtuse.
Do you not know or do you disbelieve that the techniques we’re using are reverse engineered from cold war torture survival training manuals? (I know, “Which techniques? Which manuals? Which cold war?”)
Frankly, I wonder if it matters.
Sometimes when people argue about what constitutes torture and what doesn’t, it seems disingenuous to me. If national security is your highest priority, then say so.
You don’t seem to have a problem with dogs or waterboarding even though they violate our laws and international agreements. Is there really any technique that you would say: “Never. Not under any circumstances. No matter how many lives it might save.”?
If not, fine. But let’s be honest about it.
If we’re really coming from a difference in priorities here, salami slicing the definition of torture is pointless.
Gina B.



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kevin s.

posted June 28, 2007 at 10:36 pm


“kevin, I happen to agree that you have engaged in obfuscation in your responses on this thread.”
How so?



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kevin s.

posted June 28, 2007 at 10:46 pm


“You’re so smart. I hate it when you are deliberately obtuse.
Do you not know or do you disbelieve that the techniques we’re using are reverse engineered from cold war torture survival training manuals? (I know, “Which techniques? Which manuals? Which cold war?”)”
I’m realizing this is the new talking point on the left-wing blog sites. I will do some research. It’s new to me, honestly. This is the only far-left site I read.
“Sometimes when people argue about what constitutes torture and what doesn’t, it seems disingenuous to me. If national security is your highest priority, then say so.”
And yet, nobody has really answered what I consider to be the central question. If your point is so pristine, it should be very simple to answer what constitutes torture. Of course, everyone is hilariously pretending to be other people now, so the discussion has digressed, to some degree.
“You don’t seem to have a problem with dogs or waterboarding even though they violate our laws and international agreements.”
I don’t have a problem with dogs or waterboarding, exept to the extent they violate our laws. If they are against our law, then what are we arguing about? Is the military flouting American law without retribution? Where and when is this occurring?
“Is there really any technique that you would say: “Never. Not under any circumstances. No matter how many lives it might save.”?”
So you make the leap between barking dogs and the notion that there is NO techinique I would oppose? That said, let me reverse the question. Is there any technique that you would not use if you knew it would save one billion lives?
“If we’re really coming from a difference in priorities here, salami slicing the definition of torture is pointless.”
I don’t know what your priorities are. National security is a priority, yes. Terrorists are not a priority. I am willing to subjogate their rights to some degree, which is not to say that I am willing to ignore their rights entirely.



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Chonbuck

posted June 28, 2007 at 10:46 pm


As a modern concept torture implies some social entity exercising cruelty over someone for the purpose of coercing or breaking them. Others (not I) would claim that if WE, the PEOPLE would all renounce torture somehow, that our enemies would become friends, yada, yada.
Greg, your statement that “torture” is down the middle of the Republican party is an absurd assertion. The record shows nothing of the kind. Torture has too many perjorative implications to be a fair moral argument anyway. “The record” does show that while some wacky human rights lawyers have argued that denying the freedom to own a Koran while at Gitmo is some form of torture, it is unlikely that anyone would call that cruel.
Was Christ “tortured” by this definition? No, he wasn’t being coerced or forced to do something. His treatment was certainly cruel and of course, undeserved punishment. However, many Old Testament passages retell some of very harsh sentences of God upon sinners and enemies of Israel.
Thus, “cruelty” is the moral dilemma, I would postulate. “Torture” being a prejudiced political definition weighted to mean different things to different people; in our times simply put: “I call on George Bush to stop torturing!!!” Under some viewpoints, it is clear that some “sentences” handed down by God in the OT would be considered cruel or even “torture” by today’s UN standards.
Fact is that the penalty for owning a Bible in Saudi Arabia–and some other Muslim nations–is quite cruel, and yet there are no armies of objectors claiming that as “torture.” “Thou shalt not be cruel” is a clearer maxim that we can all better understand.
For those who do not understand these maxims about morality and act with cruelty, there are just punishments suited for those people. While punishing the cruel with cruelty is absurd, what is also absurd is to avoid the issue of dangerous philosophy that bad actions aren’t bad–just symptoms of pathologies. In other words, in knowing what is cruel, we must first have a clear understanding of basic right and wrong.
A hardship (or punishment) can be good for the soul too.



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Anonymous

posted June 28, 2007 at 11:25 pm


Kevin S.
Here’s my definition: Is there a better than average chance I would call it torture if somebody did it to one of our guys.
Waterboarding, yep.
Dogs, probably. But as you mentioned, that’s illegal anyway.
Extreme temperatures, positions. Yep.
Sleep deprivation. Yep.
Threatening loved ones, or pretending to. Yep.
Sexual humiliation. Yep.
Electroshock, etc. Of course.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether something is wrong until it’s done to someone you care about or can identify with. With dehumanized subjects, like “terrorists” things get murkier — or easier, depending on where you stand.
National security is important, but there are only so many parts of my humanity I’m willing to sacrifice on its altar.
Whichever way you come down on this issue, there’s a reason we’re having this argument now. The envelope is being pushed. As Christians we need to decide, is it being pushed closer to God or further away?



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Payshun

posted June 28, 2007 at 11:41 pm


K:
So you make the leap between barking dogs and the notion that there is NO techinique I would oppose? That said, let me reverse the question. Is there any technique that you would not use if you knew it would save one billion lives?
Me:
But the thing is Kevin you don’t know if it will. That’s the problem w/ it. There is absolutely no guaretee that the information will be reliable.
p



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justintime

posted June 29, 2007 at 12:02 am


Kevin has been watching too many action adventure flicks.
Is this a game of find the nuclear device before it goes off, killing millions?
I think I saw that movie.
They used trickery instead of brutality to find the bomb.
Kevin’s torture victim will say anything, just to end the pain.
Kevin doesn’t know for sure whether the victim even knows anything.
But the victim tells Kevin what he thinks Kevin wants to know.
And Kevin sends his troops off on a wild goose chase.



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Wolverine

posted June 29, 2007 at 12:11 am


Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether something is wrong until it’s done to someone you care about or can identify with. With dehumanized subjects, like “terrorists” things get murkier — or easier, depending on where you stand.
I find it difficult to imagine any of my friends or family having anything remotely to do with terrorism. If someone I cared about were shown to have ties to terrorism, I’d urge him to cooperate. And if he refused, I’d disown him.
Wolverine



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Anonymous

posted June 29, 2007 at 12:14 am


Again, sometimes it’s hard to tell whether something is wrong until it’s done to someone you care about or can identify with. If you can dehumanize even the people you care about because of their actions, so be it.
I’m not sure where the Christianity is in that, but again, it’s all about priorities.
Gina B.



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Wolverine

posted June 29, 2007 at 12:50 am


Gina,
It is not dehumanizing to recognize that those around us are capable of making decisions of their own, for both good and evil. Nor is it dehumanizing to recognize that sometimes people must be allowed to suffer the predictable consequences of their decisions.
Some crimes are so hideous as to sever all the normal bonds of friendship and even kinship unless they are repented of fully. Terrorism is one of those crimes.
Wolverine



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neuro_nurse

posted June 29, 2007 at 12:56 am


“Fact is that the penalty for owning a Bible in Saudi Arabia–and some other Muslim nations–is quite cruel”
I don’t believe that – prove to me that’s true. Cite your source.



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kevin s.

posted June 29, 2007 at 10:05 am


“But the thing is Kevin you don’t know if it will. That’s the problem w/ it. There is absolutely no guaretee that the information will be reliable.”
That’s your problem with it, but not Gina’s. I was addressing Gina’s statement.
“Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether something is wrong until it’s done to someone you care about or can identify with. With dehumanized subjects, like “terrorists” things get murkier — or easier, depending on where you stand.”
But again, the mere detention of our troops would be unacceptable to me, habeus rights or no. Short of pacifism, we cannot simply rule out military action because we would not want it to happen to us. I wouldn’t define sleep deprivation of our troops as torture, but it is nonetheless unacceptable, coming from our enemies.
“Again, sometimes it’s hard to tell whether something is wrong until it’s done to someone you care about or can identify with. If you can dehumanize even the people you care about because of their actions, so be it.
I’m not sure where the Christianity is in that, but again, it’s all about priorities.”
Well, the “dehumanizing” word choice is yours, not mine. In China, members of the Falun Gong are being imprisoned for their beliefs. That is an outrage. Also, murderers are in prison for their crimes. That is not an outrage. Am I dehumanizing the situation? No. Rather, I am viewing it objectively.



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kevin s.

posted June 29, 2007 at 10:07 am


“Kevin has been watching too many action adventure flicks.”
United 93, for example.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 29, 2007 at 10:36 am


“I don’t have a problem with dogs or waterboarding, exept to the extent they violate our laws.”
Kevin, obtaining or performing an abortion are not a violations of our laws. There are those of us who believe that the interrogation methods with which you don’t seem to have a problem are unjust and immoral, just as you and I believe that abortion is immoral. Owning human beings as slaves was once legal in this country – so the legality of those methods is really not relevant to me or others who are posting here.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 29, 2007 at 11:27 am


“Fact is that the penalty for owning a Bible in Saudi Arabia–and some other Muslim nations–is quite cruel”
Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa
http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/regional/regional_1175.html
Saudi Arabia:
“Personal religious items such as a Bible or a rosary are usually permitted, but travelers should be aware that on occasion, these items have been seized at entry and not returned to the traveler.
(“Homosexual activity is considered to be a criminal offense and those convicted may be sentenced to lashing and/or a prison sentence, or death.
“Penalties for the import, manufacture, possession, and consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences, fines, public flogging, and/or deportation. The penalty for drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia is death.”)
Now, maybe you think seizure of one’s personal property is cruel, but I’ll bet you that the incidence of that occurring (“occasional”) is pretty insignificant in comparison to the number of men detained in this country just for having skin that’s just a shade too dark – or an Arab-sounding name.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Sarasotakid

posted June 29, 2007 at 11:58 am


Maybe torture is too big a picture or too hazy a target to nail down. Can Christians agree that the changes in our policies initiated by the recent administration should not be supported? Can we agree that using techniques we called torture when they were committed by an enemy just a few short decades ago, is not acceptable? That violating our own rule books on the subject is “close enough” to torture that we can get past our partisan leanings and home team spirit to say, “Enough.” Can we at least agree on that? I’ll keep praying.Posted by: Gina B.
Welcome to the wonderful world American Evangelical Christianity Gina where Jesus is lauded but not followed! Where we are preoccupied with personal salvation at the expense of ethics in the here and now. You will not find agreement from many of the hardliners in here that Bush has done anything in the slightest that is wrong.
Instead of debating over the meaning of torture and letting pseudo-intellectuals adopt a “two day” rule, we should be lamenting the fact that the term “Christian” in our lexicon means nothing more than “I love Jesus” without any ensuing corresonding ethics.
Neuro and Justintime, great comments! At some point you will come to realize that you’re throwing your pearls to the swine, though.



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kevin s.

posted June 29, 2007 at 2:29 pm


“Kevin, obtaining or performing an abortion are not a violations of our laws. There are those of us who believe that the interrogation methods with which you don’t seem to have a problem are unjust and immoral, just as you and I believe that abortion is immoral. ”
I wasn’t suggesting that I believe that everything legal is moral. I was stating what I think about waterboarding and barking dogs (and etc…).
“Welcome to the wonderful world American Evangelical Christianity Gina where Jesus is lauded but not followed!”
Disagreement with Sarasota = Not following Jesus
How emergent.



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Anonymous

posted June 29, 2007 at 2:48 pm


“Neuro and Justintime, great comments! At some point you will come to realize that you’re throwing your pearls to the swine, though.”
You just called me, Wolverine, Eric, and a whole host of people non-Christians. That, or you’re an opportunistic exegete.
I don’t think you are that interested in this issue. None of you are, with the exception of Neuro. You likely have reservations about the use of sleep depravation (or similar) to illicit information, and might be worried (as I think we all are, to varying degrees) with the potential slippery slopes of condoning such practice.
However, reasonable people can disagree about how far we want to move down that path. Reasonable Christians can disagree about how faith in Christ ought to inform our opinions on the matter. It’s a difficult conversation to have, but it should be had.
Unfortunately, nobody here is very interested in the discussion of what constitutes torture. Rather, the goal is to shoehorn dissent into the “supporting torture” box, without following the logical trajectory necessary to make that claim.
In your minds, the argument has been won, so you come here to throw stones. Thus, we have quite a bit of back-patting and sanctimony. This is unwarranted, and should be utterly uneccessary if your anti-torture argument is so airtight.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 29, 2007 at 2:56 pm


Sarasotakid,
“At some point you will come to realize that you’re throwing your pearls to the swine”
Actually, one of the things I most appreciate about kevin s. is the challenge of exchanging ideas with him.
I am often very perplexed as to how what seems very clear to me in the Scriptures, those things that seem to be priorities, are interpreted differently, or appear to have a lower priority with other Christians.
The flip side of that is that I know that other Christians feel that way about the way Scripture speaks, or fails to speak to me.
It can be aggravating and sometimes frightening, because we are dealing with Truth, but the Truth apparently looks different to each of us, and I often wonder “who’s right and who’s wrong?” (Probably more so at this time in my life now that I, a Catholic, am married to a Baptist – but let’s not go there!)
Sometimes it’s difficult to do, but I’ve been trying to find common ground with the people on this blog with whom I frequently disagree. In doing so, I have found that I no longer feel that I am ‘throwing my pearls to swine.’
I have found that while I may see the manifestations differently, at the heart, many of the things that trouble the ‘conservatives’ (or whatever label is preferred) on this blog also trouble me. We live in a society that has misplaced values.
I would like to stop hearing ‘conservatives’ tell me what I believe and what my values are based on my identification as a ‘liberal,’ but if that is my expectation, then I must not presume to know another person’s values and beliefs based on her or his identification as a ‘conservative.’
Kevin (et alia) has a point. But if I am to truly disagree with him, then I must allow myself to see his point and not just reject it based on its face value.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Anonymous

posted June 29, 2007 at 3:38 pm


So, in the spirit of finding some common ground, perhaps we can agree that torture, like obscenity, pornography, or art, are culturally defined – their definitions are based on societal norms – “we know it when we see it.”
What one community considers obscene may be perfectly acceptable to another community. I enjoy listening to Eric Dolphy, Igor Stravinsky, John Coltrane, hard core punk, Johnny Cash – all of which are considered noise by some people.
Perhaps my accusation that Kevin has been obfuscating is based on my feeling that this thread really isn’t about defining torture. My feeling was that this discussion was about the Christian attitude towards torture. But perhaps Kevin and others are correct to try to pin down the definition of torture which, unfortunately, seems to be evasive.
I would like to ask another question that I believe is equally relevant to this discussion: are abusive interrogation techniques necessary? Of course, no one will disclose this, because doing so would be admitting to detainee abuse, but has there been any benefit to detainee abuse? Has any valuable intelligence been acquired by treating a detainee abusively?
Why defend a practice that has no documented efficacy?
Seek peace and pursue it.



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kevin s.

posted June 29, 2007 at 3:51 pm


“Perhaps my accusation that Kevin has been obfuscating is based on my feeling that this thread really isn’t about defining torture. My feeling was that this discussion was about the Christian attitude towards torture. But perhaps Kevin and others are correct to try to pin down the definition of torture which, unfortunately, seems to be evasive.”
If I were to accuse Nancy Pelosi of genocide, would it be evasive to point out that you did not believe her to have conducted genocide, would that be evasive? In this case, the definition of torture must be established before we can discuss when or if it can be used.
“I would like to ask another question that I believe is equally relevant to this discussion: are abusive interrogation techniques necessary? Of course, no one will disclose this, because doing so would be admitting to detainee abuse, but has there been any benefit to detainee abuse? Has any valuable intelligence been acquired by treating a detainee abusively?”
I think it certainly does. We have acquired intelligence that has foiled plots and led to the arrest of renowned terrorists. Are we going to get the information simply by asking politely? Do terrorists have a right to preserve the secrecy of plans to kill hundreds of people? Your point suggests that we are simply engaging in these methods simply because our military men and women enjoy hurting people.



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Anonymous

posted June 29, 2007 at 3:58 pm


Neuro_nurse wrote:
“4) Torture dehumanizes the torturer”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/03/AR2007060301121.html?referrer=emailarticle
Excerpt:
“In Mosul, he took detainees outside the prison gate to a metal shipping container they called “the disco,” with blaring music and lights. Before and after questioning, military police officers stripped them and checked for injuries, noting cuts and bumps “like a car inspection at a parking garage.” Once a week, an Iraqi councilman and an American colonel visited. “We had to hide the tortured guys,” Lagouranis said.
Then a soldier’s aunt sent over several copies of Viktor E. Frankel’s Holocaust memoir, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Lagouranis found himself trying to pick up tips from the Nazis. He realized he had gone too far.”
By the way, for those of you who believe that torture works so well – what is your take on the sudden spike in the number of people communing with Satan in Reformation-era Europe?



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neuro_nurse

posted June 29, 2007 at 4:20 pm


Kevin,
I was retracting my claim that you obfuscated. The evasiveness to which I referred was in finding the definition of torture.
“We have acquired intelligence that has foiled plots and led to the arrest of renowned terrorists.”
Was it acquired by abusing the detainee? Is that documented? Where? Prove to me that detainee abuse is effective – Please cite your source.
“Are we going to get the information simply by asking politely?”
According to the Global Security information on interrogation techniques, the ‘direct approach’ is 85-95% effective. http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/policy/army/fm/fm34-52/app-h.htm
“Your point suggests that we are simply engaging in these methods simply because our military men and women enjoy hurting people.”
http://hrw.org/reports/2005/us0905/2.htm
‘Neuro_nurse wrote: “4) Torture dehumanizes the torturer”’
Actually, David Gushee wrote that in Christianity Today. http://www.wrrcat.org/WRRCAT%20curric/2-Religion/Gushee-CT-2006.pdf (3.21 MB file)
Seek peace and pursue it.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 29, 2007 at 4:22 pm


Kevin,
I was retracting my claim that you obfuscated. The evasiveness to which I referred was in finding the definition of torture.
“We have acquired intelligence that has foiled plots and led to the arrest of renowned terrorists.”
Was it acquired by abusing the detainee? Is that documented? Where? Prove to me that detainee abuse is effective – Please cite your source.
“Are we going to get the information simply by asking politely?”
According to the Global Security information on interrogation techniques, the ‘direct approach’ is 85-95% effective. http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/policy/army/fm/fm34-52/app-h.htm
“Your point suggests that we are simply engaging in these methods simply because our military men and women enjoy hurting people.”
http://hrw.org/reports/2005/us0905/2.htm
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Anonymous

posted June 29, 2007 at 4:23 pm


Neuro_nurse wrote: “4) Torture dehumanizes the torturer”’
Actually, David Gushee wrote that in Christianity Today. http://www.wrrcat.org/WRRCAT%20curric/2-Religion/Gushee-CT-2006.pdf (3.21 MB file)



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neuro_nurse

posted June 29, 2007 at 7:34 pm


“The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to unpleasant and inhumane treatment of any kind is prohibited by law and is neither authorized nor. condoned by the US Government. Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear. However, the use of force is not to be confused with psychological ploys, verbal trickery, or other nonviolent and noncoercive ruses used by the interrogator in questioning hesitant or uncooperative sources.
“The psychological techniques and principles outlined should neither be confused with, nor construed to be synonymous with, unauthorized techniques such as brainwashing, mental torture, or any other form of mental coercion to include drugs. These techniques and principles are intended to serve as guides in obtaining the willing cooperation of a source. The absence of threats in interrogation is intentional, as their enforcement and use normally constitute violations of international law and may result in prosecution under the UCMJ.
“Additionally, the inability to carry out a threat of violence or force renders an interrogator ineffective should the source challenge the threat. Consequently, from both legal and moral viewpoints, the restrictions established by international law, agreements, and customs render threats of force, violence, and deprivation useless as interrogation techniques.”
FM 34-52
HEADQUARTERS
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
Washington, DC, 8 May 1987
http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/policy/army/fm/fm34-52/chapter1.htm
http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm34-52.pdf (14.8MB file!)
Seek peace and pursue it.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 29, 2007 at 7:35 pm


“information obtained by the use of these prohibited means is of questionable value.”
“Use of torture by US personnel would bring discredit upon the US and its armed forces while undermining domestic and international support for the war effort. It also could place US and allied personnel in enemy hands at a greater risk of abuse by their captors. Conversely, knowing the enemy has abused US and allied POWs does not justify using methods of interrogation specifically prohibited by law, treaty, agreement, and policy.
“[*The commander bears the responsibility to ensure that these activities are performed in accordance with applicable law, regulations, and policy. The unit must have an internal SOP for execution of the interrogation mission.] *Emphasis added for use in this manual.
“Torture is an act committed by a person under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain and suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control.”
FM 2-22.3 (FM-52)
Human Intelligence Collector Operations
Headquarters, Department of the Army
September 2006
http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm2-22-3.pdf (4.58MB)



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Payshun

posted June 29, 2007 at 7:53 pm


Then a soldier’s aunt sent over several copies of Viktor E. Frankel’s Holocaust memoir, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Lagouranis found himself trying to pick up tips from the Nazis. He realized he had gone too far.”
That is one of my favorite books of all time.
Oh and Kevin he was not calling you a non-Christian, all he was saying she was wasting her time talking to you. If you think that verse refers to whether or not a person is Christian then that would be your assessment but it would square up to what the author was really trying to get at.
p



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Payshun

posted June 29, 2007 at 7:55 pm


Quick correction:
but it would not square up to what the author was really trying to get at.



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Anonymous

posted June 29, 2007 at 8:02 pm


“Fact is that the penalty for owning a Bible in Saudi Arabia–and some other Muslim nations–is quite cruel”
I don’t believe that – prove to me that’s true. Cite your source. Neuro
He heard it on Jack Van Impe. Whatsa matter wid ya, mon?



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Eric

posted June 29, 2007 at 8:28 pm


Neuro nurse – Thanks for responding to my question. I appreciate it. In your opinion, “humane treatment” and “physical and moral violence” are what defines torture. But where does that leave us?
It’s obvious that certain things are inhumane (at least to me) such as electroshock, starvation, waterboarding, etc. But is feeding someone only water and vitamin supplements humane treatment? Is making someone sit in an uncomfortable chair for a long period humane treatment? Is blindfolding someone while transfering them to another facility humane? All these activities have been called “torture” at some point. Ethical people can disagree on these issues without one being labeled “pro-torture” or “unChristian.” Do you get the point I’m making about ambiguity? There are TONS of gray areas here.
When it comes to specific techniques it’s easy to say yes or no. When it comes to writing policy, which is what the government is tasked to do, it is very hard.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 29, 2007 at 9:01 pm


Eric,
The quotes from and links to the Army Field Manuals I posted above may help to provide clarity. Aside from that, there is the Geneva Convention.
Peace!



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kevin s.

posted June 30, 2007 at 12:51 am


“If you think that verse refers to whether or not a person is Christian then that would be your assessment but it would square up to what the author was really trying to get at.”
Which is not the meaning of the text. Casting pearls to swine does not simply refer to the inability to convince those with whom you disagree about a certain issue.



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Eric

posted June 30, 2007 at 2:48 pm


Thanks for evading my questions Nursey.



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Anonymous

posted June 30, 2007 at 5:01 pm


“But is feeding someone only water and vitamin supplements humane treatment? Is making someone sit in an uncomfortable chair for a long period humane treatment? Is blindfolding someone while transfering them to another facility humane?”
Pardon me – do you want my opinion? Yes – would you want someone to do that to you? Remember, these guys have NOT been convicted of any crime, so where is the justification, particularily when Army documetns specifically state that inhumane treatment is unnecessary and counterproductive.
I’ll ask again: do you have any documentation that there is ANY benefit from mistreating detainees – please cite your source.
While it may seem intuitive that if you treat someone badly enough they will eventually give you what you want (which is exactly, I cannot accept the a priori assumption that it actually works. Show me some empirical evidence. Until then, I beleive that the documents I cited speak for themselves – if you’d bother to read them
“The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to unpleasant and inhumane treatment of any kind is prohibited by law and is neither authorized nor. condoned by the US Government.”
“…from both legal and moral viewpoints, the restrictions established by international law, agreements, and customs render threats of force, violence, and deprivation useless as interrogation techniques.”
BTW, would you have called me “nursey” if you knew that I am 6’2″ and have a full beard?



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Anonymous

posted June 30, 2007 at 5:03 pm


erratum:
While it may seem intuitive that if you treat someone badly enough they will eventually give you what you want (which is exactly one of the reasons the Army states that these techniques are “useless”)



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canucklehead

posted June 30, 2007 at 8:50 pm


The implication in the movie “A Mighty Heart” is that U.S. interests were complicit with Pakistani authorities’ use of torture to solicit a confession while tracking down those responsible for the abduction/murder of Daniel Pearl.



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Carl Copas

posted July 1, 2007 at 4:36 pm


“He heard it on Jack Van Impe. Whatsa matter wid ya, mon?”
LOL.



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Sarasotakid

posted July 1, 2007 at 8:48 pm


Disagreement with Sarasota = Not following Jesus.How emergent. Posted by: kevin s.
“How emergent.” It’s the equivalent of saying: “you believe in torture, how Christian.” I accept your snotty “how emergent” if you accept my “how christian.” Your values are ones that I would not embrace in a million years. That’s all.
“You just called me, Wolverine, Eric, and a whole host of people non-Christians. Posted by ???”
No, what I said was that the term “Christian” means nothing. I didn’t call you anything. If there is a “shoe” there that you believe fits, be my guest and wear it.



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Sarasotakid

posted July 1, 2007 at 8:51 pm


Which is not the meaning of the text. Casting pearls to swine does not simply refer to the inability to convince those with whom you disagree about a certain issue.Posted by: kevin s.
Your biblical exegesis is about as compelling and convincing as your political views. In short, not at all.



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Payshun

posted July 2, 2007 at 12:51 am


Which is not the meaning of the text. Casting pearls to swine does not simply refer to the inability to convince those with whom you disagree about a certain issue.Posted by: kevin s.
Me:
Well actually it deals w/ sharing your deepest truths w/ people that don’t believe in them and will trample it because they don’t care (like pigs.) That’s what the metaphor is about. It’s not calling you a non-christian.
p



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Sarasotakid

posted July 2, 2007 at 6:54 am


Well stated Payshun.



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Sarasotakid

posted July 2, 2007 at 6:58 am


Actually, one of the things I most appreciate about kevin s. is the challenge of exchanging ideas with him. Neuro
I don’t. As Don would say, Kevin doesn’t argue fair. He is never wrong. If your definition of exchanging ideas is to explore why he tolerates some very offensive ideas and concepts, I can respect that. It certainly brings out the best in you. The same cannot be said of him.



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Anonymous

posted July 2, 2007 at 12:31 pm


“Well actually it deals w/ sharing your deepest truths w/ people that don’t believe in them and will trample it because they don’t care (like pigs.) That’s what the metaphor is about. It’s not calling you a non-christian.”
No. Christ did not simply urge us to share our deepest truths. He urged us to share about him, but not to waste time with those who ignore the truth. He certainly did not mean that, if you encounter dissent, you should dismiss people as pigs.
“”How emergent.” It’s the equivalent of saying: “you believe in torture, how Christian.””
No it isn’t. “How Christian” implies that my viewpoint is not Christian. However, you fit the emergent mold to a ‘T’, which was the purpose of my statement.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 2, 2007 at 12:41 pm


Sarasotakid,
I suspect that kevin s. feels that his position on this blog is, to some degree, necessarily adversarial. Kevin wrote, “This is the only far-left site I read.” (This is ‘far-left?!’ You should meet some of my friends. I’m sure they’d think I’d gone over to the dark side by reading God’s Politics!)
Christ gave us a model for dealing with our ‘adversaries’ (although, I do not consider kevin to be my adversary – he is a member of the body of Christ, and as such, deserves as much honor as any of the rest of us).
I try to respond to kevin et alia with humility and validate his comments when I can. (I’m not perfect, and I slip up – as in my response to the ‘nursey’ comment above). I don’t expect the same in return because Jesus told us not to. I’ll just keep heaping burning coals on his head.
Oh, and BTW, the Joe Friday approach helps too.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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kevin s.

posted July 2, 2007 at 1:03 pm


“I don’t expect the same in return because Jesus told us not to. I’ll just keep heaping burning coals on his head.”
This implies that I treat you disrespectfully. Where have I done so? I argue by taking your points and offering a counterpoint based on how I understand the logic of the situation.
An adversarial approach would be taking what you believe, ignoring your viewpoint, and saying something like “ah, yes, the usual liberal tripe from Neuro.”
Am I disrespectful simply by virtue of being conservative? Sara obviously thinks so.



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paul

posted July 2, 2007 at 1:43 pm


FYI: Regarding Saudi Arabia
http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/saudi/issues/dp.html
cheers, Paul



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neuro_nurse

posted July 2, 2007 at 1:55 pm


“This implies that I treat you disrespectfully.”
No, I wrote, “I try to respond to kevin et alia with humility and validate his comments when I can.” This does not imply that you have shown a lack of humility, or that you have not validated my points from time to time. I don’t expect the non-verbal acknowledgement that one would expect from face-to-face interaction, and there are some people (et alia) who are not as courteous as you.
“An adversarial approach would be…”
Adversary: (noun) one that contends with, opposes, or resists. (adjective): 1: of, relating to, or involving an adversary 2: having or involving antagonistic parties or opposing interests.
I will admit to an attempt at humor, if you consider the Hebrew word for ‘adversary.’
I also wrote that I do not consider you to be my adversary. I have written several times that I appreciate our exchanges – which is not to say that I don’t get frustrated with you sometimes, but I also sometimes get frustrated with my wife who, as you know, is a conservative.
Therefore, your last comment, “Am I disrespectful simply by virtue of being conservative?” has no validity, since I don’t consider you to be disrespectful, nor do I have negative feelings about you simply by virtue of your being conservative.
That fact of the matter is, out of all of the people who post on God’s Politics, you are one I’d most like to sit down with for a cup of coffee. So if you ever come down river to New Orleans… aeauooo@yahoo.com
Peace! (I mean it too)



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neuro_nurse

posted July 2, 2007 at 2:28 pm


Not bad Paul, you found one incident of a Shi’a Muslim who was ‘apparently’ executed for possessing a Bible. If you look over the other information about Saudi Arabia on the AI website as well as other human rights websites, you’ll find that there is a very high degree of religious intolerance – primarily against other Muslims, but Shi’a in particular.
As far as I can tell, owning a Bible in Saudi Arabia is not a crime.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Gina B.

posted July 2, 2007 at 2:56 pm


Neuro Nurse,
Good comments as always. Your research is admirable. I too consider Kevin a brother in Christ, but I also consider him a worthy adversary in the debate department.
(Are you really 6’2″ and bearded? I admit to hearing your posts in my head in a female voice. Darn those pesky stereotypes!)
What I would love to hear from Kevin or Wolverine or Eric, is even the admission that the situation bears close watching by Christians. That the policy is POTENTIALLY disturbing in its implications, and that there’s a POSSIBILITY that it MAY have already strayed too far from our core values as Christians and even as Americans.
I’m willing to acknowledge that torture/abuse is cultural. Nailing down every specific potential type of abuse is difficult if not impossible. And there are things I might not consider all that bad that others would quail at.
I guess I’m one who feels the argument is more about the Christian response to the overall concept of coercive/abusive treatment rather than about degrees.
As I consider “During which term?” splitting hairs in the abortion argument, I consider, “Which procedure exactly?” splitting hairs in the abuse argument. The net result is something that is not pleasing to God.
Neuro, your arguments about efficacy and law are compelling. But on this site particularly, I don’t want us to lose sight of the Christian standard of whether or not an action is pleasing to God.
And please no more eloquent but irrelevant posts about God condoning punishment. Harsh interrogation of people not found guilty of a crime cannot be called punishment.



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Anonymous

posted July 2, 2007 at 3:32 pm


You:
No. Christ did not simply urge us to share our deepest truths. He urged us to share about him, but not to waste time with those who ignore the truth. He certainly did not mean that, if you encounter dissent, you should dismiss people as pigs.
Me:
This is simply not true according to the actual passage. Christ dismissed people all the time, particularly legalists. It was not just dissent that pushed Christ to dismiss some and others bring closer. It was the heart and honesty they person came to the table w/. There were plenty that did not agree w/ him inside his own camp. but the harshest criticism came when people would try and trap him and were not really honest w/ what they were saying. The priests and many others were not honest in their questions. That’s what the passage is arguing for. When they don’t want it don’t share it w/ them. Because they will trample what is the most beautiful and enduring pearls like swine because they won’t realize how amazing those gifts are.
p



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kevin s.

posted July 2, 2007 at 3:44 pm


“What I would love to hear from Kevin or Wolverine or Eric, is even the admission that the situation bears close watching by Christians.”
Absolutely.
“That fact of the matter is, out of all of the people who post on God’s Politics, you are one I’d most like to sit down with for a cup of coffee. So if you ever come down river to New Orleans… aeauooo@yahoo.com
Members of my house church community are down there as we speak. I’d be there, but my rental property is going on the market this week. Can nurses not drink beer?



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Payshun

posted July 2, 2007 at 4:03 pm


K:
No. Christ did not simply urge us to share our deepest truths. He urged us to share about him, but not to waste time with those who ignore the truth. He certainly did not mean that, if you encounter dissent, you should dismiss people as pigs.
Me:
Too bad Mathew 7 has nothing to do w/ talking about him. He was in the middle of talking to the crowds about the sermon on the mount. That means he was talking to disciples, the crowds and anyone that would listen. So yah you can bring in other texts and use that to bolster your point but that still doesn’t have anything to do w/ the original meaning of the metaphor of using pigs and swine.
The verse reads:
6″Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Your explanation of that verse doesn’t wash w/ what the verse actually says. This is most certainly true. Have you ever tried to reveal deeper aspects of God to people that feel they know better? It can get ugly. People don’t like to have their most sacred ideas questioned, let alone challenged.
I am glad you realized he did not call you a non-Christian.
p



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neuro_nurse

posted July 2, 2007 at 4:20 pm


Gina B.,
Thanks. In retrospect, I thought that saying I am 6’2” and bearded might have sounded threatening (my physically imposing size has served me well on more occasions in this profession than I care to count). My intention was to ask Eric if he would have addressed me in what I and most nurses I know, male or female, consider to be a pejorative manner if he knew that I am a man.
I am not going to question the intent behind attempting to define what constitutes torture. As I said earlier, I believe the Army field manuals spell it out pretty clearly:
“The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to unpleasant and inhumane treatment OF ANY KIND is prohibited by law and is neither authorized nor condoned by the US Government.” (emphasis mine)
“…from both legal and MORAL viewpoints, the restrictions established by international law, agreements, and customs render threats of force, violence, and deprivation useless as interrogation techniques.” (emphasis mine)
“…is feeding someone only water and vitamin supplements humane treatment?” No, that’s deprivation.
“Is making someone sit in an uncomfortable chair for a long period humane treatment?” That’s rather unpleasant, isn’t it?
“Is blindfolding someone while transfering them to another facility humane?” What is your intention for doing so?
Why are you proposing these hypothetical actions?
I agree that this has very disturbing implications for our country and its citizens:
“In the view expressed by the Justice Department memo, which differs from the view of the Army, physical torture “must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” For a cruel or inhuman psychological technique to rise to the level of mental torture, the Justice Department argued, the psychological harm must last “months or even years.” Memo on Torture Draws Focus to Bush http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26401-2004Jun8.html
Abraham, the most righteous human to ever walk the earth, begged the Lord to show mercy to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike” Genesis 18:25.
We have no evidence that the men the U.S. government has detained have committed any crimes. Why should we argue that subjecting them to various means of deprivation and discomfort are justified, “so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike?”
Abraham did not suggest that the Lord kill only the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
I know that there are Americans who really could not care less about what other people around the world think of us, or who may just not have considered it. My career goal is to work in developing countries. The way this country has conducted itself since 9/11 is increasing the danger to Americans traveling outside the U.S.
Twice while I was traveling in the eastern part of Ethiopia I was confronted by young Muslim men who said, “George Bush is bad!” They seemed surprised when I agreed with them. At the time, I thought their dismay was amusing, but I realize now that they expected me to disagree with them, meaning that their assumption was that since I’m an American, I must support this president and his actions. That is a frightening thought to me.
At least I got two of them straightened out.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 2, 2007 at 4:27 pm


“Can nurses not drink beer?”
Nurses can indeed drink beer – lots of it, in fact. Unfortunately (actually, fortunately – praise God!), this nurse is a recovering alcoholic.
Café au lait et beignets at Cafe du Monde?
(Starbucks is putting in a store across the street. You can take the boy out of Seattle…)



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Gina

posted July 2, 2007 at 5:00 pm


Neuro:
Way to bring your usual researched underpinnings to the moral argument I keep bringing up. I appreciate it.
And I must also admit that thanks to my sexist stereotyping of nurses, I was a little prideful in thinking, “This sister is kicking forensic butt!” I don’t think there are a lot of women posting. I was a little giddy.
Kevin, thanks for the acknowledgement. You and Neuro are welcome to stop by for coffee any time you’re in Detroit. Bring Payshun, Wolverine and Eric with. What a Spirited discussion that would be.
Gina B.



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Sarasotakid

posted July 2, 2007 at 5:06 pm


Am I disrespectful simply by virtue of being conservative? Sara obviously thinks so. Posted by: kevin s.
Now you read minds? You take reprehensible positions and you excuse unexcusable actions. Your political ideology means precious little to me. Your almost unquestioning siding with authority is disturbing.
You play the offended party. You are anything but that.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 2, 2007 at 5:14 pm


Gina B.
Believe me, I know lots of butt-kicking women! My mentor is not only one of the best neuro nurses in the country (SRO when she lectures at the AANN meetings), she also has a black belt.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 4, 2007 at 12:59 pm


What was I thinking?! I didn’t even look at the medical literature!
“Ill treatment during captivity, such as psychological manipulations, humiliating treatment, and forced stress positions, does not seem to be substantially different from physical torture in terms of the severity of mental suffering they cause, the underlying mechanism of traumatic stress, and their long-term psychological outcome. Thus, these procedures do amount to torture, thereby lending support to their prohibition by international law.”
Basoglu, M., Livanou, M., Crnobaric, C. (2007). Torture vs other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment: is the distinction real or apparent? Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(3), 277-285.
I’m sure there’s more like this out there.
I’d be happy to email a copy of this study to anyone interested: aeauooo@yahoo.com
Seek peace and pursue it.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 5, 2007 at 12:21 pm


“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”
U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, article 2, section 2. http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/cat.htm#art2



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