Steve Young: John Campbell Wrong on Waterboarding

This is hot off the press from Steve Young, Democratic candidate for Congress.  But a quick commentary.  If John Campbell truly believes what he said about waterboarding, would the good Congressman willfully subject himself to a waterboarding procedure?  Or how would he feel if a member of his family were subjected to waterboarding?

 

Today my Repubulican opponent made a statement on waterboarding that I felt you need to see. The Daily Pilot, a local insert in the Los Angeles Times has a weekly feature entitled “That’s Debatable.” The feature poses a question and asks John Campbell [R,Ca-48] to answer. Today’s question was:

“Michael B. Mukasey, the nominee for attorney general, has been criticized for his views on interrogation techniques, specifically his comments on waterboarding. But Mukasey has said he would enforce a law banning waterboarding if Congress approved it. Do you think if he is confirmed as the next attorney general Congress should move swiftly to approve a law banning waterboarding, and would you vote for such a law?”

Of course Campbell did not answer the question whether he would vote to ban waterboarding, but his dancing in a buffalo heard answer is even more revealing:

“Waterboarding is a psychological interrogation technique that does not inflict physical pain or permanent damage. Nonetheless, it is reserved only for the worst terrorists who have information that could save dozens, hundreds or thousands of American lives. I do not think it is an excessive response to the threats that we face in the world today. John Campbell Congressman (R-Newport Beach)” (emphasis added)

I doubt that Campbell would vote to ban a “psychological interrogation technique” he sees as so important and that does not inflict pain nor risk of death. Campbell is wrong.

Waterboarding induces panic and suffering by forcing a person to inhale water into the sinuses, pharynx, larynx, trachea, and lungs. The head is tilted back and water is poured into the upturned mouth or nose. Eventually the subject cannot exhale more air or cough out more water, the lungs are collapsed, and the sinuses and trachea are filled with water. The subject is drowned from the inside, filling with water from the head down. The chest and lungs are kept higher than the head so that coughing draws water up and into the lungs while avoiding total suffocation. “His suffering must be that of a man who is drowning, but cannot drown.”

Mr. Campbell, if waterboarding does not inflict pain or death, why is it effective? If it does not inflict pain or death why was a Texas sheriff convicted under Govenor George Bush of using waterboarding? Mr. Campbell, if waterboarding is not painful, and does not threaten death, will you Mr. Campbell agree to be waterboarded so we know you are not mistaken? Are you angry yet? Visit Anti-Bush Bucks and contribute. Mr. Campbell, how long has it been since someone tried to drown you?

Had enough of duplicity?
- Steve Young

  41 comments for “Steve Young: John Campbell Wrong on Waterboarding

  1. November 9, 2007 at 7:50 am

    That’s a disappointing response from my Congressman.

  2. November 9, 2007 at 10:37 am

    I second that Allan. Just when my Congressman did something right by voting for ENDA he goes and makes a dumb statement like this. (eyes rolling)

  3. Long time politico
    November 9, 2007 at 11:48 am

    This focus upon a public discussion of interrogation techniques is foolish and counterproductive. Those who have been employed in national security recognize that there is value in maintaining a sense of uncertainty in the minds of one’s enemies regarding how the US will respond during a time of war. This applies to interrogation as well as military strategy, diplomacy and even many military tactics. This has been a dictum of statecraft recognized by Machiavelli, von Clauswitz and Sun Tzu to cite a few.

    I recognize the political value in using this discussion of interrogation (or torture) to further attack your political enemies, but it is ill advised given the nation’s current situation. I do not expect that my brief comments will dissuade anyone on the left from their current course of action; I just had to state the obvious for the adults reading this blog.

    And, no, I will not enter the discussion on how I personally feel about interrogation techniques (see above.)

  4. November 9, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    LTP, I see your point and I’d be fine with the idea of keeping this kind of discussion behind closed doors if I thought our intelligence services could be trusted to act like human beings. Apparently they can’t, and that’s why the discussion had to be brought before the public.

    Not only do they torture people whose value as intelligence sources is negligible or nonexistent, but they also use methods that have been proven ineffective.

    Like so much of what has gone on under the Bush Administration, the activities of our intelligence services have become a cluster-you-know-what. I have relatives who work and have worked in US intelligence services, and I know how appalled they are. Sadly, if and when the act of the intelligent services is cleaned up they may never again be able to perform their work without the kind of public scrutiny you rightfully abhor. One of the many tragic legacies of the Bush Administration will probably turn out to be a permanent hobbling of our intelligence-gathering abilities as a result of the wrongness of activities I described in my second paragraph above.

    That, for the adults reading this blog, is what’s REALLY ill-advised.

  5. Aunt Millie
    November 9, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Like our founding fathers, I am profoundly skeptical of government, and believe that we need divided government.

    Tragically, the radical right has attempted to take over all branches of government with their crazed agenda.

    Americans despise this radicalism, and we are fighting back, election by election.
    It’s tragic that our county is so badly gerrymandered that we have to contiinue to tolerate asshats like Rohrabaher.

  6. Dan Chmielewski
    November 9, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    LTP — we tried Japanese miltary leaders for war crimes using water boarding as a reason. Waterboarding is torture. Torture is against the Geneva Conventions which are put in place to protect us and our soldiers should they be captured. The United States is better than that.

  7. Long time politico
    November 9, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    The point made earlier that many among our intelligence community cannot be trusted to act in a moral or productive fashion is spot on. In order for the intelligence services to function effectively and to produce actionable work product they must maintain the moral high ground and use their tools in a careful manner. That is more easily implemented if the current debate is not conducted in public.

    Careless interrogation (or worse) produces as many untruths as it does facts and it becomes a futile exercise to separate the two. An improperly stressed enemy asset will say anything to alleviate that stress.

    We differ in that I doubt that more laws will produce better intelligence product. An individual without a moral compass will ignore the law or will work around it and justify the result. If we have an absence of morality in our intelligence services (no argument from me) it is obviously a reflection of a similar void in society at large. For me, the solution is not more laws or public debate, it is returning society to the morality that guided the authors of this experiment; many of whom recognized that this form of government would work only if employed by moral men (that term includes women, so please spare us all the vapid posts.)

  8. November 9, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Water boarding is already illegal, a violation of the Geneva conventions–which are US law–and considered “uncivilized” since a 1903 trial of an American soldier in America for using the technique in the Philippines. I don’t think we need more law. We need a president that will enforce law. And a congress that impeaches a president that does not.

  9. November 9, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you for posting my article on Campbell and water boarding. The fastest way to rid ourselves of the curse that demagoguery is funding my campaign to get the word out. Contribute here: [No Waterboarding!].

    Thank you,
    Steve Young
    “I am not one of them!”

  10. November 9, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    please spare us all the vapid posts

    Have you experienced an excess of political correctness, or demands for same, on this site? If so, then I think you have an overly sensitive PC-demand meter.

    For me, the solution is not more laws or public debate, it is returning society to the morality that guided the authors of this experiment

    How, pray tell, would you do that?

  11. Northcountystorm
    November 9, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    Of course we need legislation on this. The Senate has already rejected a call to label waterboarding by the CIA torture and illegal. That vote needs to be overturned by a vote to prohibit waterboarding. .Iregardless of what the geneva Convention says or does not say, Congress needs to make it clear that the CIA can not do this. There is legislation on the books that prohibits waterboarding by the U.S. military. That legislation seems to work. We need to put senators on the spot to reverse that vote and force Bush to do the right thing and sign the law or veto it and further erode what little is left of his presidential authority. And yes, we need a new president who will sign the legislation if Bush does not.

  12. November 10, 2007 at 11:50 am

    We have law on waterboarding. It’s called the Geneva Conventions, which became enforcible US law when we became a signatory. It is exceedingly dangerous to continue pretending the US government does not have law on this. Common Article 3 section 17: “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.” Numerous other sections are relevant too. -as taken from http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/7c4d08d9b287a42141256739003e636b/6fef854a3517b75ac125641e004a9e68

    Before somebody declares the Guantanamo prisoners of war are not prisoners of war, remember that that is a logic concocted by this administration to escape the Geneva Conventions and could of itself be an impeachable offense.

  13. November 10, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Really, James, then, of course, you already know that if you follow the Geneva Convention link you so helpfully provided down a little further, you’ll find the following official definition of Prisoners of war:

    Art 4. A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
    (1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
    (2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:
    (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
    (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
    (c) that of carrying arms openly;
    (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

    You’ll note, of course, that our enemies in this conflict violate (b), (c), and (d). Look a little futher up and you’ll see a prohibition against hostage taking too.

    So, since those we are fighting are not part of any government or government-in-exile, and they refuse to abide by the common laws of war, how then does the Geneva Convention apply?

    I ask as a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College.

    Take your time in answering, I’d be interested to understand your idea of the difference between let’s say, a former soldier in Saddam Hussein’s army vs. a member of al-Qaeda.

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    State Assemblyman, 70th District

  14. RHackett
    November 10, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    Chuck. That is all well and good. But we (the US) invaded Iraq taking the moral high ground that we were freeing the Iraqi people from an oppressive dictator that tortured his citizens. I would agree that our torture methods are certainly more benign than those used against our military and civilian personnel. That is small comfort knowing that in the minds of numerous Iraqis we are now no better than the person we helped overthrow.

  15. Dan Chmielewski
    November 10, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    Chuck –
    I’m really glad you’ve identified the things those who are being held captive in Gitmo are being accused of. How can you be so sure? B aplies to a uniform (a distinctive sign). These prisoners have been there for 5+ years with no due process, no charges filed against them, but rather under some pretext that they pose a serious threat to the US and Americans in general. As a taxpayer, I’d like to know why my country has yet to file charges against these enemy combatants. And before you accuse me of showing favor to the people held there, I’m not. I want our system of laws applied to those we take into custody.

    So are we to hold these people indefinately, without charge without allowing them some sort of defense and without justice? Is this what you support as an American?

    Colin Powell said this: “If it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo. Not tomorrow, but this afternoon. I’d close it. And I would not let any of those people go. I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system. The concern was, well then they’ll have access to lawyers, then they’ll have access to writs of habeas corpus. So what? Let them. Isn’t that what our system is all about?”

    So do you object to these prisoners having their day in court?

    But get back to the thread Chuck. Since you’re a graduate of the US Army’s Command and General Staff College, tel em: Is waterboarding torture. Is torture an effective means of interogation? Shoudl Americans engage in torture? Should we follow the Geneva Conventions?

  16. Northcountystorm
    November 10, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    james– Chuck is correct about the application –or lack of it–of Geneva Convention here which is yet another reason why we need the legislation. Are you advocating eliminating the current law and regulations prohibiting this procedure for US military personell because we don’t need them? After all, we have the geneva Convention, right?

    These terrorists are not prisoners of war. But I am with RHackett, even if geneva Accords don’t apply we should hold ourselves up to a higher standard. Your position is allowing Senators to attack the AG nominee for not disapproving a method they themselves failed to disapprove.

  17. Chuck DeVore
    November 11, 2007 at 12:37 am

    Northcountystorm,

    You hit the nail on the head.

    Now, if we can agree that legally, detainees at Gitmo have absolutely no standing under the Geneva Convention — they don’t folks, believe me on this, I know of what I speak — then the issue becomes one of moral example and whether that moral example is worth the loss of intelligence from very tough enemies who refuse to play by the rules. In fact, enemies who view our hesitancy in using things such as water boarding as a weakness to be despised and exploited.

    And, lest you think for one second that by our moral example, our enemies won’t torture our soldiers, then guess again. Even the North Vietnamese and North Koreans tortured US POWs, even though they were subject to the Geneva Conventions.

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    State Assemblyman, 70th District

  18. RHackett
    November 11, 2007 at 9:26 am

    Chuck,

    Your rationalizing the act. Remember, WE invaded taking the moral high ground. Engaging in the activity you approve as being acceptable makes us no better than the group we replaced with that mindset.

  19. November 11, 2007 at 10:24 am

    If I was the one being tortured I’m sure I would tell them anything they wanted to hear to get them to stop. Why don’t they do this to Campbell, so he can talk about Mike Corona. Let’s see if he thinks the same, after that.

  20. Dan Chmielewski
    November 11, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Chuck – you are justifying waterboarding and torture; we’re AMERICANS and we’re supposed to be above that. Torture is not an effective means of gathering information.

    And just because other countries don’t play by the rules here doesn’t excuse us from doing so.

  21. just asking
    November 11, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Chuckie,

    Why don’t we just have the non-captives of Guantanamo start a Devore Hemp farm, then he would support them.

    Or better yet lets bring them here to run Chuckie’s nuke’s, he’ll need someone willing to work the reactors in Irvine he wants to build.

    Way to go Chuckie! Can’t wait till you try to run for anything, your words and writings will haunt you in mailers for the rest of your very short political life.

    Torture is a crime! We are freedom loving Americans or freedom loving illegal aliens who love America, torture is torture!

  22. November 11, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    Chuck,

    You don’t know any of the things you assume you do about the detainees in Guantanamo. The facts are kept unavailable by this grasping and unlawful government. Secondly, Al-Qaeda fighters captured on the field in Afganistan for example absolutely fit the definitions listed by you. You are flatly wrong. Yet our President declared them something other than what they were, combatants, so he could exalt himself above the law – an act that simultaneously handed Al-Qaeda a propaganda victory, which in combination with the deceptive and blundering Iraq occupation is why the organization is has grown globally. Lastly, you very casually declare what “our enemies” do and did on the field without any access to the evidence. You don’t know any better than anyone else on this blog what happened. That’s what hearings and trials are for, and I think it fair to assume that you as a sworn public official would have more respect for that rule of law. Neither Bush, nor his administrators, nor anyone else has the right to convict of specified actions without proper hearings. We have law. It’s the Geneva Convention. Every point you made is false. By the state department’s own admission many of these men were captured on the field. They clearly conform to the definitions of militias you took from the site I offered.

  23. Dan Chmielewski
    November 12, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Chuck — since you hype your resume at every available opportunity, I wonder if you could open your copy of the Army’s Intelligence Manual to the page where it says “coersion yields questionsable results.” How black and white can we make it for you?

    Below, this excerpt from a 2005 article in the Christian Science Monitor:

    “Perhaps the murkiest areas involve CIA interrogations at secret overseas sites, as well as the practice of sending some captives to countries such as Syria and Egypt, where they are likely to be tortured – a practice that is illegal in international law.

    The most visible case involves Canadian citizen Maher Arar, who in September 2002 was detained by US agents during a stopover at JFK airport in New York, accused of terrorist connections, and sent by private plane to Syria. A father of two, he had emigrated from Syria to Canada as a teenager. **Mr. Arar was tortured over a 10-month period, until Canadian officials finally won his release.*** No charge was ever made against Arar, and Canada has filed suit against the US attorney general.”

    Our government tortured an innocent man for 10 months; what do you think of that?

    Torture does not adhere with our principles of freedom and violates the right to be free from cruel, unusual punishment by the government; core protections found in 5th, 8th and 14th Amendments of the the Constitution.

  24. Scott N
    November 12, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Chuck…

    Parsing the Geneva Conventions for evidence of whether accused detainees are, or are not, technically prisoners of war is a fool’s errand. If they are, they are subject to its protections. If they are not, then they ought properly to be subject to all the other provisions found in the Constitution regarding detention of individuals by our government.

    The problem I and others have is the terrifying assertion, made by the Bush government, that they have the prerogative to create a new, third category out of thin air, accusations, and secrecy, wherein no protections of any kind exist, and anyone at all, American or not, may find themselves placed in such a category, on the say-so of the Bush government alone. Wherein the mere assumption of guilt is enough to justify indefinite detention without charges or trial.

    This is the most fundamentally un-American proposition I can conceive of. Apparently it is also one of which you approve.

    In the context of waterboarding, you said:

    “. . .then the issue becomes one of moral example and whether that moral example is worth the loss of intelligence from very tough enemies who refuse to play by the rules.”

    And you said it in light of a complete absence of evidence that any use of waterboarding or other torture techniques has ever yielded any intelligence of any real value from any detainee, ever. So you propose to:

    a) surrender the very character and moral stature of our great nation, things of inestimable value and the very things that make our nation worth fighting for in the first place, in exchange for

    b) something of no demonstrable value whatsoever.

    No sir. Not in my country. Not in my name. Not in a million years. I would put a bullet in bin Laden’s head myself, given the chance. But I would not waterboard even him. I will not stoop to that level. I am an American, and a five-year Army veteran with a 101st Airborne combat patch from the Gulf War, and I am better than that.

    “But the terrorists want to kill us!”, you will protest. Fine. I want to ride the space shuttle. Who cares what they want to do? It’s a question of what they CAN do, and what they cannot do is destroy the United States of America. A dozen 9/11′s, a score of al-Qaedas, could not accomplish that. It takes Americans to destroy America. Shredding the Constitution out of craven fear is where that starts. For it was not written to be a guide only in times of peace and calm. Real American courage means sticking to who we are and the values that define us, even in the face of heightened danger. So they want to kill us. Big deal. I will live with the slightly increased risk rather than support the policies of a government that tortures people. I believe that to the position of any real American patriot.

    You also said:

    “. . . In fact, enemies who view our hesitancy in using things such as water boarding as a weakness to be despised and exploited.”

    Chuck, who the h@ll cares how our enemies view the things we do? Are you seriously suggesting that perhaps, if we did openly torture people, that our enemies would somehow come to respect us? Do you desire their respect that badly? What kind of macho tough-guy 5th grade school-yard argument is this, anyway? Our enemies are such that they will find a justification to despise and exploit us any way they can, without regard to what we do, or do not do. Their assessments of what makes us weak or strong are not based on any objective reality or true understanding of the values that underlie our policies. I should not have to point that out to a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College.

    Your odious argument leaves out the much more important question: Are we really to decide whether or not we are a nation that tortures people, based on the opinions of our enemies? I’d like to think not.

    Illegal detention and waterboarding: Tying it all together

    The worst part of all this is that waterboarding – the forcible drowning of a person to a point just short of death – is more horrible than anything we do to convicted felons, more painful and terrifying than even any method of capital punishment still in use. Yet, if the Red Cross and other sources are to be believed, we are allegedly doing this to people who have not even been found guilty of anything, because the Bush government refuses to bring them before a court. Explain for me how this is acceptable policy for any nation worth living in.

  25. Dan Chmielewski
    November 12, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    Scott –
    wow. Great response and thank you for your service on this Veterans Day.

  26. Scott N
    November 12, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Dan, the pleasure was mine. Bad arguments are to me what wavy red capes are to bulls. Chuck was full of it, and it offended me. Couldn’t let it slide.

  27. November 13, 2007 at 1:23 am

    You all know, of course, that water boarding has been used three times so far, including on the operational planner of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Interrogation of him up to the point before we used water boarding yielded little to nothing. Afterwards, he provided valuable information that led to the rolling up of many al-Qaeda assets.

    I suppose by your previous comments, you would rather that more Americans died. I get it. Thanks for your suggestions.

    Chuck DeVore
    State Assemblyman, 70th District

  28. Chuck DeVore
    November 13, 2007 at 1:30 am

    I love all this overwrought discussion about the Constitution. So, you all believe that the U.S. Constitution applies to our enemies overseas. For instance, the Eighth Amendment.

    I would commend to you a bit of interesting history. After President Lincoln was assassinated, how were the accomplices of John Wilkes Booth dealt with? Ah yes, by a military tribunal. Several were executed by hanging. These people were, of course, citizens.

    Interesting.

    But, of course, you believe our President is a dictator, or certainly an emperor, who has shredded the Constitution. Well, your Party has the majority now in both houses of Congress. If the case for impeachment and conviction is so damn obvious, where is it?

    You folks really take the cake on this.

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    State Assemblyman, 70th District
    Lieutenant Colonel ARNG (Ret.)

    P.S. Happy Veterans Day

  29. RHackett
    November 13, 2007 at 7:42 am

    I love all this overwrought discussion about the Constitution. So, you all believe that the U.S. Constitution applies to our enemies overseas. For instance, the Eighth Amendment.
    You keep forgetting we invaded with the moral high ground believing we could install an American style of democracy in Iraq. You keep forgetting that. Instead you rationalize an act that we as Americans should find repulsive.

    I would commend to you a bit of interesting history. After President Lincoln was assassinated, how were the accomplices of John Wilkes Booth dealt with? Ah yes, by a military tribunal. Several were executed by hanging. These people were, of course, citizens.
    So that is your justification? That’s pretty sad. I would like to say that we as a people have changed for the better. But with folks who rationalize torture I believe we have a long way to go.

    But, of course, you believe our President is a dictator, or certainly an emperor, who has shredded the Constitution. Well, your Party has the majority now in both houses of Congress. If the case for impeachment and conviction is so damn obvious, where is it?
    To quote the immortal Olson Johnson, “who can argue with that?”

  30. November 13, 2007 at 9:15 am

    I would love the opportunity to Water-Board Those who have Water- Boarded – especially Mr. Dick Cheney and the likes of !

    It would give great and stimulating satisfaction…

    My name is Dave Harvey and my Antispam word is progressive!

  31. Chuck DeVore
    November 13, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Many of you on this blog keep linking water boarding to Iraq. Has the U.S. ever water boarded POWs from Iraq? Or, have the three people thus far interrogated all been terrorists captured in Afghanistan or Pakistan? Terrorists who, according to the Geneva Convention rules, do not qualify for Geneva Convention treatment…

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    State Assemblyman, 70th District

  32. just asking
    November 13, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Chuckie,

    If we are to accept your bushlogic on the matter of torture, where would you draw the line? Would you have a line? Under your interpretations would it be ok to chop off or shoot some limbs? Torture family members? Whats acceptable to you?

    Then, are these same limits or non-limits accetpable to you when americans are captured under the same pretenses abroad? You would aplaude if foriegn nations used waterboard techniques on Americans?
    Remember, thanks to this administration, many nations see us as aggressors internationally.

    What Would Chuckie Do? (WWCD?)

  33. Dan Chmielewski
    November 13, 2007 at 10:30 am

    “But, of course, you believe our President is a dictator, or certainly an emperor, who has shredded the Constitution. Well, your Party has the majority now in both houses of Congress. If the case for impeachment and conviction is so damn obvious, where is it?”

    Chuck — there is a case for impeachment; but politically speaking, we don’t have the numbers for a conviction. And as much as many of us on the left would like to see Bush and Cheney out, the bar on impeachment is a little higher than lying about a windy in the Oval Office.

    And besides, politically speaking, Bush/Cheney are uniters in a sense that the left will be out in force on election day. Your party stands to lose more seats in Congress and in the Senate because of him; your candidates, to win, have to seperate themselves from him. Even with Bush coming to Minnesota for an incumbant Senator, a comedian raised more money for the seat during the same time period.

    Considering what a fiscal conservative you are, how awful for you to have to defend the financial record of debt and waste stacked up by this president and your party; we went from one trillion in national debt to nearly $9 billion in the course of 6.5 years. So your party can no longer claim the mantle of being for “limited government” on spending or on intrusion into our personal lives.

    “You all know, of course, that water boarding has been used three times so far, including on the operational planner of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Interrogation of him up to the point before we used water boarding yielded little to nothing. Afterwards, he provided valuable information that led to the rolling up of many al-Qaeda assets.”

    Actually, we don’t know how many times waterboarding was used.

  34. November 13, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    I am off put by the poster before DanC’s disrespectful tone, but glad to see the tone used as I always view ad hominems as a sure sign of a failed argument. I’ll reply to “Just Askings” post anyway, as I think it is weak.

    Regarding to other nations using torture against Americans, if the Americans were covered under the Geneva Convention rules I cited above and repeat below:

    (1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
    (2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:
    (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
    (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
    (c) that of carrying arms openly;
    (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

    Then torture is illegal. Thus, the treatment of Americans such as Senator John McCain by North Vietnam was illegal.

    If the Americans do not meet the above criteria, for instance, if they were operating as covert agents, then the above rules do not apply and the nation who captured the covert agents can do to them whatever their local laws and customs allow.

    Regarding the issue of harsh interrogation techniques, if American lives are at stake, for instance, in the first few days after capture of a key terrorist such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, then practice would appear to justify use.

    Lives were saved by the water boarding of as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. This is a fact. His interrogation allowed us to stop active terrorist operations.

    So, from what you are saying, should Khalid Sheikh Mohammed have been read his Miranda Rights and put out on bail? Or, treated as an officer POW with a Geneva Convention Class Category of IV, paid a salary, and allowed to correspond with his friends back home?

    Do you see the distinction between Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a common German Army POW or a prisoner such as Hermann Goering who was tried by an International Military Tribunal and convicted to hang? Do you see a role at all for military tribunals, as was done in Nuremberg from 1945 to 1949?

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    State Assemblyman, 70th District

  35. Dan Chmielewski
    November 13, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Disrespectful tone? Well, as Ronald Reagan once said, facts are stupid things. And I’m sorry if you take any umbrage but those who support torture in America’s name are simply not going to get a lot of respect on this site.

    And thanks again for spelling out who is and who isn’t covered under Geneva Conventions. But can you acknowledge that torture isn’t accepted American policy. President Bush publicly stated “America doesn’t torture” and there is a large body of testimony that water boarding is torture. So either the president is a liar or he’s not an effective commander-in-chief if his “order” isn’t carried out by those under his command. I would argue that he is both.

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be covered by the Geneva Convention under C and D that you cite above.

    So how do you explain the Canadian Citizen who was arrested and held and tortured by the US for 10 months; released without charges? Here’s a WaPo story:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A522-2003Nov4

  36. just asking
    November 13, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Chuckie,

    In my most respectful tone…what about the private (non-voluntary) mercinaries that are doing whatever they please. Are they protected by conventions? If so, which leaders should we hold responsible for their directed actions?

    Respectfully submitted for your twisting of facts.

  37. Chuck DeVore
    November 13, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    DanC, while we often disagree, you (most) always, to your great credit, keep things civil. I learn much from the discourse and benefit from it greatly. As for the disrespectful tone, I was referring to “just asking” who, presumably, knows my name.

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    State Assemblyman, 70th District

  38. Dan Chmielewski
    November 13, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Likewise Chuck. I don’t think we’ll ever change each other’s minds but I would like to think that we agree on some of the bigger things that truly matter.

  39. just asking
    November 14, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Dear Assemblymember Devore,

    Is torture an American virture? Is it humane? Is torture respectful of life? As a right-to-life Republican why is there no outcry when torture of human beings occurs to innocent people?

    Sincerely Yours,

    just asking

  40. New Pragmatist
    January 25, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Perhaps I can invite one of my more liberal collegues to help me follow the logic on waterboarding and more broadly what is and is not acceptable for operative questioning. To date, the only response I can get is “Waterboarding is cruel, so we shouldnt do it”. This is followed by an emotional appeal asking whether I’d want it. Well Duh …no one wants it… No one wants cops to pull them over whether they are innocent or guilty!! We derived agreements between nations to safeguard POW’s for exactly this reason. So we seek the goal above of “I wouldnt want this done to me or anyone I care about”….so how do we get there…

    So (1) how do we decide the line? Well we could apply the Geneva convention standards. But being an attorney and a historian, the Geneva Convention is an “agreement” between signatories. Opposing armies including Napoleon have had such agreements forever about how to treat each others peeps. Even the Crusaders and Saladin to some extent. BUT the KEY was reciprocity. No one has ever had an agreement that isnt reciprocal on treatment!

    This is an important note because the Geneva standards are only helpful where reciprocal. So this would include any POW’s from armies who also agree to the POW standards.

    But what about people groups who explicitly oppose the agreement? If a group rejects reciprocity, then what on earth is the Consideration for the agreement. For 5k years of human history Consideration is mandatory for an agreement.

    The lack of reciprocity makes irrelevant the whole discussion above about whether “I would want it” or “would want it done to my family”. They will do it or not do it as they wish. I have no effect on them.

    So if I can’t make an agreement with them with specificity, that leaves me with only 2 ways to decide what is ok…1. conscience and/or 2. utilitarianism = does it work?

    Using conscience is tricky because my threshold moves. My standard of acceptability tends to drop as nasty stories of the treatment of my soldiers arise. For example the Japanese Bataan death march created calls for abusing Japanese POW’s in response.

    Utilitarianism violates my conscience when stories of my own treatment of POW’s comes out.

    So what do we use? I would argue that we apply the Geneva standards with those who reciprocate. With those who dont we LEAVE It vague and open and adjust our policy. Of course this requires us to be ACTIVE in monitoring… but maybe that’s good…

    Oh and if someone wants to argue that we should apply geneva convention to violators of it, then please address what incentive applies to those who would otherwise be reluctant signers?… if you give the benefits anyway, how do you encourage rougher cultures to sign? The “Set an example” theory doesnt hold in real life. In fact just the opposite…. imagine what the Japanese in WWII would have done with no agreement at all?

  41. January 26, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Here’s a story from a guy who waterboarded himself to prove that “those AL Zarqawi guys were such pussies.”

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