Torture and Spying

I was upset to read the prisoner torture memos which came out last week. I suppose I’m not totally surprised. It’s still upsetting.

I am equally upset the Obama administration won’t pursue those responsible.

To summarize, in order to legitimize what was otherwise cruel and despicable acts which violate our laws, treaties and nearly everything this country stands for, Justice Department attorneys redefined black as white, day as night, light as dark. The letter of the law was wholly removed from the spirit. It was a c-y-a ruse and those responsible should justify their actions under penalty of the law.

President Obama said he doesn’t want this type of examination, so it probably won’t happen.

The same thing goes for internal eavesdropping by our spy agencies. Those responsible should be held responsible.

A lot of people probably find my thinking naive, but I believe we must live by certain moral parameters. If our enemies force us to abandon these moral guidelines we have already lost.

This is a day filled with disappointment.

15 Responses to “Torture and Spying”

  1. Jim says:

    I understand your point but I disagree with you.

    I am against the actual releasing of the documents. Now our enemies know what we do during interrogation and can train to deal with what we do during forced interrogations.

    Sometimes too much information is not a good thing. When I order a steak I’m not asking how the cow was slaughtered.

  2. Geoff Fox says:

    The release of these memos doesn’t limit our options any more than the Geneva Convention did.

    Honestly, it seems unlikely our worst enemies would take our response to their actions into account. And the purpose of these techniques was to convince our enemies we’d kill them, even if they viscerally knew we would not.

  3. Tom says:

    Geoff,

    I tend to agree with Jim on this one.

    I know if the life of one of my loved ones were on the line and only torture could secure the information to save them, nothing would be off the table – nothing. Would you not feel the same if it were one of yours?

    As the old saying goes, “all is fair in love and war”

  4. Bob says:

    I have mixed feelings about all of this.

    As for the releasing of the memos, I say fine. The intent of keeping them secret was never to protect our methods, such as they were, but to protect those who decided that it was OK for Americans to torture. (I mean, how big a secret is waterboarding, anyway? Pol Pot’s people knew how to do it.)

    Should we go after the low-level CIA people involved? Me, I’d rather avoid another Lyndie England debacle, where the peons are convicted and the people issuing the orders get off scott free. If we go after anyone, it should be the government officials who came up with the policies in the first place.

  5. Geoff Fox says:

    I think the Lyndie England analogy is correct. I agree.

  6. Geoff Fox says:

    I believe it’s been established that this is not the case. The people who were tortured did not have ‘ticking bomb’ info, nor did we suspect they did.

    If we are to hold ourselves up as a beacon to the world, and I think we should, then we must live an exemplary life. It’s as simple as that.

  7. Yoda says:

    Everybody seems to be missing the basic point that torture is ineffective in obtaining accurate information. It doesnt work.

    CIA interrogators used the controversial waterboarding technique 183 times on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attacks and 83 times on another al-Qaeda suspect, according to The New York Times.

    Makes you wonder…If torture is so effective, why 183 times? The first 182 didnt produce any results?

    Torture was also used as a recruitment tool to galvanize those who dislike America. It did far more harm than good.

  8. John says:

    I respectfully disagree as well. We are talking about an enemy that seeks to engage itself it extremely brutal acts against innocent people, which is also certainly does not abide by the Geneva code of conduct either. I think torture is the least of their concerns. If they were not out there committing these acts they would be being held, they are POW’s

    I enjoy reading you blog though

  9. Jim says:

    As for the Abu Ghraib incident….

    I personally don’t have a problem with the techniques that they used. The problem, and ultimately what led to the uproar, was the pictures that showed the MP’s comically enjoying what they were doing. That should never have happened.

    While they were wrong, the chain of command was ultimately responsible for the guards actions. When I saw those pictures my first questions was, “Where was their platoon leader?!?! Where was their platoon sergeant!?!?”

    As a former MP and Infantry platoon leader I would never have let anyone take pictures or fool around in that way. Putting the prisoners in stress positions or forced nudity at the direction of CIA interrogators, ok fine. Those stress positions are far less physical than the beatings that our troops receive by our radical Islamic enemies. But letting the troops get their jollies by taking those pictures….no way….I would have ripped those troops new orifices.

    Having said all that I will repeat that I understand and respect the opposing viewpoint and readily admit that this is an issue that tears at the fabric of morality for professional soldiers.

  10. Peter Sachs says:

    I don’t find your thinking naive at all, Geoff.

    The post 9/11 “screw the Constitution, screw the law, screw ethics and morality, and let the government do whatever it wants to keep us feeling safe” mentality has, in my opinion, chipped away at the very heart of what America is (supposed to be) all about.

    I think Ben Franklin summed it up best when he said, “People willing to trade their freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both.”

  11. Jim says:

    Mr. Franklin’s words won’t sound as good after the next terrorist attack that claims over 3,000 lives.

  12. Bob says:

    Ben Franklin’s words have stood us in good stead for over two hundred years; I figure they’ll be just as good after another two hundred. The real question is whether we continue to hew to the principles of the founders, or give in to fear and commit cowardly acts like torture.

  13. Kevin says:

    Look, what we consider torture is child’s play when dealing with extremists. If we should be rationally dealing with them, go over with Obama, who also wants to talk it out, find them, and talk to them. Then, you’ll make the news as the newest victims of torture over there. We submerge their heds in water, big deal!?!? And you know what else is really ironic, IT WORKS!!! They talk. Plus, all this was done before Obama decided that terrorists have rights too, so why is this such a big deal. If torture makes a guy talk, go ahead, torture him. Some of you people need to get out into the real world and realize that we shouldn’t be switching what our soldiers carry from guns to lollipops. If you don’t like what America does to protect her interests, go to China, Russia, or North Korea. See where all this talk aobut love not war gets you. Oh yeah, that’s right, six feet under. Grow up, man up, or get out. Everybody who says they love America but don’t fully support her interests might as well say they hate America. Get over it folks.

  14. Geoff Fox says:

    Kevin -

    John McCain says it doesn’t work and he was tortured as a POW.

    We tortured Khalid Sheik Mohammed 180+ times in one month. If it was so effective why did we need to use it so often? Since we were denying it at the time it certainly wasn’t as a deterrent.

    Obama didn’t decide terrorists have rights. The courts ruled we must follow the law.

    This is not about Obama. It’s about our country and whether it’s a country of rulers or rules. I go for rules.

    Thanks for commenting, which I appreciate.

  15. Bob says:

    In World War II we defeated some of the worst monsters ever to walk the earth, and managed to do it with conventional interrogations. Were we too soft or naive back then? Tell it to the vets.

    But even if torture worked, even if it yielded results that we couldn’t get in some other fashion, it’s still deeply wrong. The question is, do we believe in our bedrock principles strongly enough that we’re willing to take some personal risk to protect them?

    Strangely enough, the definitive statement on the subject cam from a Fox newscaster, Shepherd Smith, who said in a webcast, “I don’t give a rat’s a** if [torture] helps. We’re Americans: we don’t f****** torture!” Damn right.

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