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Amnesty unveils shock waterboarding film – The Independent: An American expert in torture techniques has denounced his government for allowing “waterboarding” to be practised against terror suspects, just as a graphic advertisement showing the brutal reality of the technique is unveiled to British cinema-goers.

Malcolm Nance, who trained hundreds of US servicemen and women to resist interrogation by putting them through “waterboarding” exercises, demanded an immediate end to the practice by all US personnel.
He said: “They seem to think it is worth throwing the honour of 220 years of American decency in war out of the window. Waterboarding is out-and-out torture, and I’m deeply ashamed President Bush has authorised its use and dragged the US’s reputation into the mud.”

  1. # 86 RBG said, on April 23rd, 2008 at 9:58 am

    77 M Scott
    “What about the other 15 people you tortured this way that turned out to be innocent”

    That argument also doesn’t work in our justice system where innocent people, unfortunately, suffer occasionally. (We try to compensate those people, or even prosecute those who caused the miscarriage of justice.) It’s not possible to live in a perfect world, just one that utilizes the best option.

    Actually, that’s one of many reasons that I don’t support the death penalty. It’s much harder to make restitution.

    Your statements presume everyone but you is an idiot. Well, in real life, thousands of people like doctors, judges, rescue personnel, even economists must make life and death judgements every day- and you have no squawk about that. Not all of them are perfect decisions- some dead wrong.

    They are not deliberately trying to cause pain.

    Famous civil-libertarian Alan M. Dershowitz advocates “torture warrants” provided by a judge.

    At least if there is going to be torture, more of it will be under carefully supervised conditions and consideration.

    I don’t care what he advocates. If this is for suspects rather than convicts, I’m strongly against it. If it’s for convicts, it’s probably cruel and unusual punishment.

    I think torture is an unthinkable option in the name of overall harm reduction. That harm being against Americans and other allies who you’d let die in Iraq so you can enjoy a distant clear conscience over 14 seconds of waterboarding.

    Presumably you meant acceptable rather than unthinkable here. Perhaps you might ask yourself just what we are fighting about. Do you think that we are fighting to protect our freedom? Do you think that presumption of guilt rather than innocence supports this? Is it possible that when we begin to presume guilt and institute torture that in fact the terrorists have won by converting us to their way of life? (I put torture and terror on equal footing here deliberately, in case you’re wondering about the connection.)

    I take it you do support the Iraq War because why do you presume to know more than the legal President of the US and the US officials who prosecute the war?

    Obviously not. Why not? Because, in this case, unlike the case of torture there is not a wide body of agreement and consensus on the topic. Our president supports the war. Many of our past leaders and our senators and congresspeople do not.

    Further, the international community is even more clearly against our war. This is very different from the widespread international and national agreement against torture. It is only our current administration out there alone supporting it.

  2. Smartalix says:


    Why has the POW argument been dismissed? JUst because torture apologists are desperate to grasp that thin reed of vague credibility?

    Most of these people were turned over to the US military by warlords for bounties, anyway. A few were taken in their homes, and the rest on the field of battle.

    We can twist the facts all we want, but one day we must deal with the fact that we have betrayed our principles.

  3. Ben Eficial says:

    Bobbo, #88, #90,


  4. Alex says:

    The problem of torture as an information gathering tool is actually far more practical than ethical: You simply can’t trust the information you get whatsoever, because there’s no way to test that information’s veracity.

    Not even conventional lie detectors would work, because they work off of stress levels – and torture (or waterboarding, torture or not), by definition, screws with stress levels.

    Also, re: fingerbang, I believe I heard this word once used on a Kevin Smith movie (I want to say Mallrats) – or something along similar lines. (Disaffected college-student movie, essentially.) And, propriety of the word aside, you must admit, Barny fingerbanging a 4 year old *would* be shocking. At least when shown on PBS.

  5. bobbo says:

    #94–Alex==what stops the torturer from checking the veracity of the information? As in, the hostages are at 123 Maple Street. Seems to me confirmation would be short coming?

    Unthinking talking points.

  6. 888 says:

    # 3

    Angus said, on April 22nd, 2008 at 5:33 am
    Number of people waterboarded by US – 3
    Number of innocent people waterboarded by US – 0

    Moral outrage by peacenik groups and “holier than thous” – Priceless

    Number of Iraq soldiers killed by US forces: 453

    Number of Iraq civillians killed by US forces: 1500-10,000 (sources vary)

    Number of Muslims killed by Muslim Idiots (aka suicide bombers) in Iraq 2003-2008: at least 80,000-90,000 (sources vary)

    Yet the Al-Quaeda and other muslim sources call it “christian crusade” and stupid people here debate torturing THREE suspected terrorists…

  7. Alex says:

    Re #95:

    My mistake – I misspoke when I said that there was no way to verify it. What I meant is that there’s no way to trust the information at the time you get it.

    Which is the lie to the ticking time-bomb scenario. If the terrorist really *does* know where the bomb is, all he has to do is send whomever right to the opposite end of town and laugh as the bomb goes off while the FBI/whomever is caught with their pants down.

    Additionally, maintaining people in torture conditions, I’m willing to bet (although I will admit – I have only limited knowledge to the area), is a lot more expensive in terms of resources than simply holding them in a standard prison situation. (At the very least, the torture scenario requires the added expense of a torturer.) So as a means of gathering information, it’s a lot less effective both because it requires a lot more independent corroboration as standard intelligence gathering methods (say, good old fashioned bribery or buying of documents) and it requires additional resources to maintain.

  8. pat says:

    #97 – “Additionally, maintaining people in torture conditions, I’m willing to bet (although I will admit – I have only limited knowledge to the area), is a lot more expensive”

    Na, we can outsource it to India. Do you know how many torturers you can there for the price of one here?

  9. bobbo says:

    97–Alex==so much more misspeak, as if you have an agenda?

    Show me one source, even disreputable ones, that claim statements the result of torture can be “trusted?” Nobody even trusts what Hillary swears is true==so, tote up a few negative points on your side of the board.

    Ticking Bomb Scenario==gee Alex, there are short fuse bombs, and longer fused bombs. Why not use your intellect to pick appropriate scenarios rather than to uniformily pick the wrong ones?

    “A lot more expensive?” compared to what? 3000 lives. Destruction of WTC? Collapse of western civilization? Part of the equation might include that “most” torturers are warped individuals who would pay USA to do it. That revenue source should give you some comfort.

  10. bobbo says:

    HEY EVERYBODY!!!! Post 100 is coming up!


  11. 888 says:

    “Kill’em all and let Allah sort’em out”

    I forgot in which movie I heard that…

  12. pat says:

    #101 – Do unto others as they would do unto you.

  13. RBG says:

    89 MS There are indeed rules of engagement.
    Agreed. Now we’re discussing what those rules should include and where reasonably to draw the line in a fuzzy, complicated spectrum. Black & white is not the real world.

    Taking someone off the battle field and torturing them at your leisure is not OK… Navy Seals who used to undergo water boarding as part of their training until it was deemed to break their spirit too badly

    So the FBI practices wb on their people and determines it takes 14 seconds. The Navy Seals used to wb their own people but now feels it “breaks their spirit.”

    You see, this is where I believe the rules in the context of lives lost, at risk, and forever maimed in horrific war – plus common sense – can allow for 14 seconds for breaking the “spirit.” People not at risk, such as yourself, obviously disagree.

    Take, for example, an enemy captured while planting IEDs and refusing to tell where the other IEDs are. The horror of resulting broken bodies – and concern for the broken “spirits” of their loved ones – far, far outweighs any negative aspects re “breaking of spirit” of an enemy bent on such carnage. It’s not even close. Similarly we can shoot people in times of war.

    Once you agree with this example, then it becomes a matter of determining how best, as below, to limit abuse and mistakes to ensure the rewards always remain far greater than the costs. I’ll take real lives at the cost of your dented Utopian philosophy any day.

    They are not deliberately trying to cause pain.
    Like that has anything to do with anything. My point is that we already trust intelligent people to positions of extreme responsibility. A judge providing a torture warrant is no different. Even one sending a criminal to the pain of the gallows. So much for “Who decides?”

    To me water boarding, like war, is “unthinkable” in the sense of it being the reluctant last remaining option in extraordinary circumstances.

    How easy it would be from my arm chair to one-up your holy philosophies about war & torture by merely stating I don’t believe anyone should harm anyone else, ever, + free dental care for all. Meanwhile back to reality where battlefields do not have the luxury of the best government-paid lawyers money can buy and years of appeals.

    Re death penalty: try making restitution to the families and victims of escaped killers. See, your beliefs already allow for cost/benefit horrors.


  14. #101 – 888,

    Something you’ll never hear an atheist say, at least not seriously, proving once again that life is more precious to atheists. When it’s over, it’s really over. There’s never a thought like “oh well, so s/he was a good person. Guess s/he made it to heaven a tad early. No big deal.”

  15. 888 says:

    I agree with you completely 🙂

    (obviously I’m an atheist)

  16. RBG says:

    105. Mis Scott. Rather than agree with you, let me say that I’ve always thought this as well. Wonder if atheists make good soldiers?


  17. JimR says:

    #103, RGB,

    Very, very well put!

  18. #107 – RBG,

    Some do. Not the one typing this message. But some atheists make fine soldiers.

  19. #103 – RBG,

    You see, this is where I believe the rules in the context of lives lost, at risk, and forever maimed in horrific war – plus common sense – can allow for 14 seconds for breaking the “spirit.” People not at risk, such as yourself, obviously disagree.

    People not at risk??!!? I do live in New York City. How close to Ground Zero are you?

    Out of curiosity, why do you discount the issue of the information being completely unreliable?

    If we can verify it, we have another source and don’t need to resort to torture. If we can’t verify it, then it’s useless anyway. What are we going to do? Blow up a supposed training camp on the word of a torture victim and apologize to the torture victim and the dead civilians afterward?

  20. pat says:

    #105 “proving once again that life is more precious to atheists.”

    Yep, just like Stalin, Lenin, Mao & the rest of those guys.

  21. #111 – pat,

    #105 “proving once again that life is more precious to atheists.”

    Yep, just like Stalin, Lenin, Mao & the rest of those guys.

    You forgot Pol Pot. Religious folks always add Pol Pot to the list.

    I probably should have said “most atheists”. Humans are complex creatures. Any ideology can twist morals. The Spanish Inquisition and the killing of political opponents both may look like good ideas when one has an ideology that is more important than all else. Paranoiac delusions also help tremendously, especially in cases like Stalin.

  22. pat says:

    #112 – So, it is safe to say that in the 20th Century atheists have murdered more people than “non-atheists”. Even though, they are an extreme minority on this planet.

  23. RBG says:

    110 Misanthropic Scott

    I see a slight, albeit significant, difference between eating cheese cake in Katz’s Deli and someone trying to kill you in Iraq. But that’s just me.

    I take WB info as NOT being automatically unreliable mainly because it can expose previously unconsidered locations such as a critical safe house, or an arms cache or a bomb location, and so forth.



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