Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mukasey confirmed as Attorney General

I was glad to hear this. I think Mukasey was a solid choice and well qualified for the position. As for the waterboarding issue, I think it's bogus. First, it does not constitute torture. It is an effective interrogation technique that has proven invaluable in our efforts to thwart terrorist attacks. Pelosi wants to use the Army manual to define torture. Well, the military actually subjects its troops engaged in special forces training (namely the Navy SEALS) to water boarding. The purpose is to teach them to endure difficult interrogation. Would the military torture its own troops? I don't think so.

I like to draw this hypothetical. Suppose for a moment that US intelligence discovers that a nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb has been deployed somewhere in your city of residence. We don't know where it is exactly, and we don't know when it will be detonated. But we apprehend a terrorist suspect that we think was involved. Would you support water boarding that person in order to gain the information needed to avert disaster? It's a simple question, and it's a hypothetical that's certainly possible.

Ask me, and I say water board him.


The Loop Garoo Kid said...


"First it [waterboarding]does not constitute torture."

Are quite mad? Have you completely taken leave of your senses? Waterboarding is torture. After WW II we and our allies convicted numerous Japanese officiers who oversaw using this technique on Allied POWs.

Read Evan Wallach's article that appeared in the November 4, 2007 Washington Post.

As he points out, waterboarding isn't simulated drowning. It is actual drowning to simulate death. I am just wondering why you do not believe that drowning prisoners isn't torture.

By the way, waterboarding is illegal in the United States as evidenced by the 1983 conviction of a Texas sheriff and three of his depuyies who coerced confessions from prisoners using water torture interrogation techniques. The sheriff received a ten year prison sentence.

As for your hypothetical, it poses a very disturbing conundrum. It seems obvious that we should attempt to preserve our civilization from those would destroy it. In your hypothetical, we must abandon the proposition that we are a nation of laws. Perhaps we should merely enact new laws that make torure permissible.

Judge Mukasey will be a good AG, I think. He will restore moral to a demoralized Justice Dept.
I am uncertain why he took the position that he was unwilling to label waterboarding torture, although I suspect he may be privy to a few memos I am not which gave him pause.

I do not argue w/ you position that there may be circumstances in which subjecting prisoners to torture may be beneficial.

I take exception and find undefendable your position that waterboarding is not torture.


John Washburn said...

"In your hypothetical, we must abandon the proposition that we are a nation of laws."

Loop, water boarding has never been banned by American law, can you dispute this? You may argue a precedent, but you can't produce a law making this practice illegal. If it were so clear that this practice constitutes torture, then why all the debate?

True, we convicted Japanese officers of water-based torture. I have only found reference to one specific conviction of a man named Yukio Asano who was charged with inflicting "water torture" on a prisoner. This obviously brings in to question if his crime and the interrogation technique used by the US are the same. But, even if it were the same, this was the least of what the Japanese did. US Intelligence is not burning or mutilating prisoners as the Japanese did. Comparing them is a stretch.

Leaving that aside, the war crimes trials of the Japanese (and the Germans for that matter) were based on rather shaky legal grounds. I am sure you, counselor, can make an argument that because of this shaky legal ground it would hardly be wise to use them as any sort of legal precedent.

So, with no law banning water boarding and no clear legal precedent, the issue of whether water boarding is torture comes down to plain old fashioned opinion. In your opinion, it is torture. In my opinion, it is not. In my opinion, if the military subjects its own troops to this practice, then we are dealing with a harsh interrogation technique. I simply don't think the military would tolerate torturing US troops for the purpose of training. Would you disagree?

And you dodged my hypothetical. Simple yes or no, would you support water boarding in such a situation?

Anonymous said...

I really don't think I would support that. If the government is willing to take that step, where does it go next? And who does it take next?

Plus, it's not likely to happen. We've never had a dirty-bomb attack or a nuclear attack, and we've never had to take such actions against prisoners before. Why start now?


A Word About Torture __________________________________

During the 2004 Campaign, Sen John Kerry thought it would be nice to
adhere to the Geneva Convention's Humane Rules Governing Our Troops Behavior In Combat.

He Failed, for the simple reason that many of us are a bit chary of his three separate Band-aid Purple Hearts in a scant four months while on a swift-boat on the Meikong Delta, and no other fatalities aboard; Pardon me,
Three Purple Hearts? No visble scars, a hero? Add his recorded anti-military remarks. Believe what you choose.

In this struggle we are not dealing, nation-on-nation. In this one we face a rag-tag assortment of volunteer, suicidal, blood-thirsty murderous thugs from any number of Islamic cultures that ignore any rule governing conduct.

They'll gleefully, publicly, cut off a foot or hand, ear or head, with a knife or an axe, and scream Allah Akbar! Then they'll take the victim's mutilated corpse, burn it, and hang it up for public display. They love the opportunity to maim and torture the infidel.

If you have never discussed this subject with a real live returning trooper, I'd recommend it, gentlemen.

A combat vet, returning home from this part of the world, should be consulted before making absurd blogger comments on what legally constitutes torture.

In this one, there is Only One Basic Rule: Avoid Capture, Take
No Prisoners, unless they are known to be of 'High Value'.


You will do everything possible, to
kill as many of these vermin as possible, before you die. You Will Never, Voluntarily Surrender!

In This Theater of Operations,
You Will Consider The Enemy as Insane...
because they are! reb

Kristina said...

I have only one argument with your comment. These people are not insane. They are evil. To say that they are insane is to imply that they do not understand the consequences of their actions.


Kristina, You may define Insanity
with any definition with which you are most comfortable.

Here' mine:
If a kid is trained to hate and to kill (with cartoons) before he can read a book, and he's born into a Rigid Kill-Culture that stones women to death for minor "sex crimes", and whips women in public for exposing an ankle or knee, and sends a youngster into a bus or outdoor cafe with a bomb-pack, or
coaxes a group of these adult loony-tunes to high-jack and fly four commercial aircraft into buildings,

I would agree with you, in that the Grand Ayatollahs & their puppet Imams that perpetuate these atrocities Are EVIL. The victims that eagerly carry out these Murderous Acts are, in my personal, practical view, INSANE.
They Care Not For "Consequences".

But thank you for your response;
it indicates a person that thinks,
and cares about our Dilemma & Our
Responsibility to Boldly Confront A Truly Evil Culture. reb

Kristina said...

Now that I get what you were saying (duh!), I agree with you. However, my problem is that many people believe that insane people cannot be held acountable for their actions and therefore, we should not injure them in any way. Well, I'm with the idea of taking them out, and I'm not sorry to say, that, for the most part, that will involve injury, if not death.

So, that is mostly my reason for my problem with the whole insanity thing. Because in this country, legally, an insane person is not responsible for the things he does.

John Washburn said...

Kristina, welcome. It's always good to hear from someone of sound mind and noble opinion.

Reb, actually I have consulted with troops returning home. In fact, I have consulted with someone who has endured water boarding!

My own father was subjected to water boarding as part of his military training. He is a former Green Beret from the Vietnam era. Whether all Green Berets undergo this exercise or whether it was his unit and the nature of his assignment that warranted the training he can't remember. He was stationed in Western Europe at the peak of the Cold War, and let's just say that his mission came with a high probability of capture behind the Iron Curtain.

He described the technique in detail and stated that it was an attempt at psychological breakdown. Green Berets had to be mentally tough as much as physically tough. Anyway, after listening to his depiction, I asked the question: In your opinion, would you consider this torture.

"No", he replied. "It's more harsh interrogation."

He went on to say that torture, in his opinion, is anything that inflicts physical pain. Water boarding is not painful, but it is very difficult to endure. My dad is not an expert, but he is a man with experience. He does not have a problem with US authorities using water boarding to garner information.

And I would also like to add, as a salute to my father and the famed Green Berets, that I asked how long he endured this technique.

"Oh, I'm not sure exactly, but it was somewhere between three and four hours."

He then added "...I never broke."

Yeah, my dad is a bona fide badass, as are all the Green Berets.

The Loop Garoo Kid said...


I have noted that on several recent occasions you have taken the opportunity to disparage Sen. Kerry for being awarded three purple hearts during his service in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War.

My research indicates that a Purple Heart, unlike other decorations is not one for which an individual is recommended but rather is an entitlement when certain citeria are met. The wound need not have caused a physical lesion but must have required treatment by a medical officer.

So, it is not as if a person can go to the PX and order a gross of Purple Hearts or pick them up at a local Medals R Us.

Meanwhile, which was more hazardous, four months on a swift boat in the Mekiong Delta or four months working on a senatorial campaign in Alabama while a member of the Air Natinal Guard?

I will keep looking for precedent, Dr. Most recently, I found a letter dated November 2, 2007 from Major General John L. Fugh, USA (Ret.); Admiral Don Gunter, USN (Ret.); Admiral John D. Huston, USN (Ret.); and Brigadier David M. Brahms, USMC (Ret.) addressed to Sen, Patrick Leahy which reads, in part, "We write because this issue above all demands clarity: Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture, and it is illegal." These gentlemen were all Judge Advocate Generals and in their letter cite active JAGs who also believe waterboarding to be illegal and torture.

I will keep looking for black letter law.

Meanwhile, as to whether our own personnel should be subjected to waterboarding as part of training, I will defer the armed forces on that issue. After all, as evidenced by history past and present, not all of our enemies adhere to legal niceties.

With all due respect to your father, on the issue of whether waterboarding is torture, I think perhaps he is not he best judge.
Green Berets are bona fide badasses. Given their high standards of training and conduct, it is a mistake to hold civilians or even ordinary enlisted men to those standards. Certainly, torture can include the infliction of mental anguish in addition to physical pain.

I have a meeting. I will check into convictions of Japanese and domestic statutes and report back.


BB-Idaho said...

Wow, G. Berets get waterboarded. Guess I was officer's training involved getting 'captured', stuck in a foot locker; matches thrown in and then buried in mud, locker, matches and all. Then, hauled out, given "plague shots' and chained to a gulag fence. Kinda gets one fired up about the 'enemy'....frankly, I think I got of lucky..I hate drowning.