America, land of torture? It can't happen here...

Everyone loves a healthy debate. Post an idea or comment about a current event or issue. Let others post their ideas also. This area is for those who love to explore other points of view.

Moderator: Nicole Marie

America, land of torture? It can't happen here...

Postby GreatCarouser » Fri Sep 29, 2006 11:52 am

"“When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
Sinclair Lewis


The topic title doesn't have a nice beat but maybe someone can come up with a tune. When I was growing up here America was the land of folks who fought the torturers. America was the place where you could count on a 'fair shake'. We were the 'good guys'. We didn't have to cheat to win. Now we have sunk to the level of those we are fighting. All in the name of 'security'. I'm a little surprised the board has stayed so quiet on this. I'd have thought Conservatives in particular would be up in arms about this trashing of the Constitution and the balance of powers but nary a peep. When one is confident that their man will be the one weilding the whip then it isn't necessary to speculate about what happens if the whip gets passed to someone else.

I guess its more important not to be perceived as 'weak on terrorists' than it is to stand up for principles. Moralists warn about what happens when principles become 'elastic' or 'negotiable. Mr. Bush, himself, has drawn a line in the oil-rich sand of Iraq. Why has no one drawn a line for him and his cadre saying we can fight and beat these people without neutering habeus corpus and resorting to torture (a technique that often works badly)? Why is cutting and running not good in Iraq but perfectly ok where the Constitution is concerned and why is having the moral fortitude to say there are some things we don't do on principle (torture) a sign of 'weakness'?

When folks look for justice they don't petition someone or thing that is impotent. Only the powerful can dispense justice. Just answer me this, is it justice if you change the rules in an attempt to guarantee your result?

"When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out."


Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller, admitted anti-semite and Hitler supporter, until Hitler went after the Church.

Interestingly,(to me anyway) Sinclair Lewis was the author of many books, one of those is titled It Can't Happen Here. May have to read that.
Sacred cows make the best hamburger.
Mark Twain
GreatCarouser
2nd Chair
 
Posts: 1393
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 12:01 am
Location: Semi-permanent Vacation CA

Postby BenODen » Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:14 pm

A terrorist act on american soil is such a huge thing that people in power can get away with the assertion made popular by MADD, "If it prevented even one death, wouldn't it be worth it?" It's almost true too, because the assertion has become, "If it prevented even one terrorist attack, wouldn't it be worth it?" The worst terrorist attack, a bio warfare world wide pandemic, is a huge boogie man to hang out there, and its a possibility, if only a remote one at the moment.

The terrorist attack is such a huge fear that agreeing with the statement, "No, you can't do that, it's illegal" becomes an admission of weakness in the conservatives minds, which causes trouble with the Equations of military victory. The eqations of Military force say that you must absolutely crush your enemy, give him no hope of winning. It's been something that involved civilians since time immemorial, it just used to be more indirect; We seige and blockade your cities until you capitulate. In world war I and II and later it became, we bomb and shell your cities as a show of force. The Geneva conventions are meant to gentrify warfare, but things have indeed changed. Now we have armies without generals who can talk to each other over the globe because of technology. Armies that fight on and survive not by military might, but by being a seasoning mixed in with the innocent populace. It's not clear to me how you resolve all this, the terrorism, the power grab, the terrible world opinion about US policies, but it is clear that this fear of the big attack is giving the Conservatives carte blanche at this time. Doing something is "obviously" better than doing nothing, which is their accusation of the moderates and liberals. Never mind that the Moderates and Liberals have a different action plan, not no action plan.
If only I could fly on my own wings.
BenODen
3rd Chair
 
Posts: 653
Joined: Fri May 30, 2003 12:01 am
Location: Colorado, YAY

Postby Shapley » Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:24 pm

Ben,

I have a conservative mind. I don't accept torture, but I'm not willing to accept that what is happening today is torture under the definition I would accept. Granted, I have a different world view than many people on this board, but just because the New York Times or the Washington Post or even Amnesty International says it's torture doesn't make it so.

The problem we have is that, when laws are written to restrict the use of interrogation, they are written in a manner that may be overly restrictive, banning effective methods that fall short of torture. When one opposes the overly restrictive language, political opponents label you as being 'pro torture'. There may be a fine line between 'interrogation' and 'torture', but there is a line and the debate is on how far in one direction or the other that line can be moved as we set the limits on acceptable methodology used in the treatment of prisoners.

V/R
Shapley
Quod scripsi, scripsi.
Shapley
Patron
 
Posts: 15196
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Cape Girardeau, MO

Postby BenODen » Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:58 pm

Definitions are problematic, sure. I guess I wasn't only talking about torture, though. Being able to define supporters of a cause as enemy combattants and being able to lock them up indefinitely because of that classification, with no recourse scares the bejusus outa me, whether or not real torture is involved.

How far will all this go? If I give money to the wrong charity does that put me in jepordy? Will the accusations that Democrats are 'anti american' to voice decent turn in to assertions that "any supporters are Enemy Combattants?" Or, "We can't have an election, our stratgey might change and the terrorists win." If any of this were to happen, we would be an authoritarian state. One party rule, etc.

On the torture question, there's a fundemenal problem. How do we define what is "Inhumane and degrading?" I would say that anything that is unlawful for a local police department to do should be unlawful in general. Maybe any questionning techniques that caused persistent grave psychological after effects. If I found out that the police department was using sleep deprivation or Dogs or humiliation or any of these other strong methods, I would have a fit, and I suspect so would the very supporters of an aggressive defiintion of Torture. Who gets to decide? And do we really want to be doing things that some parties will define as torture? It allows those parties to ignore our cries of "that's torture!" when the treatment of our prisoners comes up.
If only I could fly on my own wings.
BenODen
3rd Chair
 
Posts: 653
Joined: Fri May 30, 2003 12:01 am
Location: Colorado, YAY

Postby OperaTenor » Fri Sep 29, 2006 6:30 pm

Hey Shap, how about you go and volunteer to be waterbaorded and tell us how much fun it was!

Amerika, die Shoenheit, fuer Bernstein Welle von Getride.....

GC, there's the tune for ya.

You can stick your head in the sand all you want, but it doesn;t change the fact that we not only torture people, but we've just legalized it.

We have irrevocably lost the moral high ground. We are no longer the nation the rest of the free world looks up to as a model of fairness, justice, and humanity. Our soldiers and civilians abroad have just been placed in danger as never before.

It's a sad day, and the end of an enlightened age.

I hear New Zealand's a nice place...
"To help mend the world is true religion."
- William Penn

http://www.one.org
OperaTenor
Patron
 
Posts: 10457
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Paradise with Piq & Altoid, southern California

Postby Catmando » Fri Sep 29, 2006 6:38 pm

How 'bout that Fanny Mendelssohn?
Last edited by Catmando on Fri Sep 29, 2006 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Catmando
1st Chair
 
Posts: 2866
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2006 1:01 am

Postby dai bread » Fri Sep 29, 2006 7:08 pm

I'm sure Canada's nice too. :wink: But we have the advantage of our huge moat.

As for torture, I've always regarded it as foolish as well as immoral, however you define it. Anyone will say anything under torture, so all the information you get has to be checked. It seems to me it would be much more cost-effective, as well as morally apt, to get our own people out into the field and get real intelligence, and not rely on hearsay. Of course, if all you want is a show trial, it's different. You don't need to worry about accuracy. If you're going to deploy troops on the basis of what you're told, you do.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
dai bread
1st Chair
 
Posts: 3020
Joined: Fri Nov 29, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Cambridge, New Zealand

Postby GreatCarouser » Fri Sep 29, 2006 7:09 pm

If I had intended this thread as a Bush Bash, I'd have posted it on the Is 43 the right Leader for America" thread. This is garbage no matter which side brings it up. Morally the use of physical coercion is reprehensible, something our framers made clear in the Bill of Rights. This isn't like a parent spanking a child. Just because we don't remove a limb or mangle and permanently disable a body function doesn't mean it isn't torture. Legislating the infliction of coercive levels of physical pain just makes it 'legal to do so' it doesn't make it morally right anymore than legislating the color of the sky to green makes it green. It was legal in Nazi Germany for the government to kill Jews, Communists, homosexuals, mentally challenged, Gypsies etc. wholesale. All were 'enemies of the Fatherland'.

Habeus Corpus has been a cornerstone of Anglo-American justice for almost 800 years. Let's assume for argument's sake that every detainee is guilty as charged, no mistakes. The problem goes much deeper than just who we are using it on. We can't justify these methods because the power granted the executive branch is so far reaching that any of us could be next on the whim of the executive and our resources for protection have been sacrificed in the name of 'the public good'. That could also read 'the good of the state' or the (shudder) 'safety of the Homeland'. This device has been used by every totalitarian regime in memory. If we allow it here we truly tread upon a slippery slope.

Our system of justice is based upon the rights of the accused for good reason. It is 'inconvenient' at times because our founders realized true liberty could only be achieved in a society where the rights of the individual received the strictest protection. They realized the individual was the weakest link in the chain of our society and therefore required the greatest protection. Senator Spector said he voted for the final Senate Bill because he thought the courts would clear up the bad parts and the good parts were too important not to have now. I won't argue the merits of the rest of the legislation here but I hope he is right about what the Court will do.
Sacred cows make the best hamburger.
Mark Twain
GreatCarouser
2nd Chair
 
Posts: 1393
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 12:01 am
Location: Semi-permanent Vacation CA

Postby Shapley » Fri Sep 29, 2006 10:29 pm

Our soldiers and civilians abroad have just been placed in danger as never before.


How so? Seems to me the other side was lopping their heads off long before the NYT suggested that we were flushing pages of their Korans down the toilet in Cuba.

Are they now going to lop their heads off harder?

V/R
Shapley
Quod scripsi, scripsi.
Shapley
Patron
 
Posts: 15196
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Cape Girardeau, MO

Postby OperaTenor » Fri Sep 29, 2006 10:53 pm

Shapley wrote:
Our soldiers and civilians abroad have just been placed in danger as never before.


How so? Seems to me the other side was lopping their heads off long before the NYT suggested that we were flushing pages of their Korans down the toilet in Cuba.

Are they now going to lop their heads off harder?

V/R
Shapley


"But Mommy! Mohammed hit me first!" Great logic, that...

The head-loppers aren't the only enemy we've ever had, and there will be more in the future. This has removed any semblance of moral superiority we may have had, and now, in any situation, enemies will treat us as they perceive they will be treated by us.

As germany was losing WWII, the Wermacht soldiers surrendered to the U.S. in droves because we had a reputation fro treating POW's humanely. Our POW's were also treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions by the Germans for this very same reason. It's classic quid pro quo.

But GWB and his congressional lemmings just put a bullet in the head of that concept.
"To help mend the world is true religion."
- William Penn

http://www.one.org
OperaTenor
Patron
 
Posts: 10457
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Paradise with Piq & Altoid, southern California

Postby BigJon » Fri Sep 29, 2006 11:55 pm

GC, I'd get really upset at torture if I knew it was being done by U.S. agents. But I don't, so I can't. This is the shadowlands we are talking about here. Sunlight is rarer than stardust. The renditions sound like a possible end run around torture restrictions, but again, we'll probably never know if it was a legit program abused for nefarious measures, or dirty program from the start. What are the rules when un-uniformed, possibly stateless, combatants take up arms against U.S. forces? Where should we send them when they are captured? Should we bring 'em all here to the mainland and put them through the criminal justice system?
Even a blind nut finds a squirrel once in a while. – Me! Feb 9, 2001
BigJon
2nd Chair
 
Posts: 1158
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2003 12:01 am
Location: Pennsylvania, USA

Re: America, land of torture? It can't happen here...

Postby BigJon » Sat Sep 30, 2006 12:14 am

GreatCarouser wrote: I'm a little surprised the board has stayed so quiet on this.

We did have a go-round on the torture issue. A little search action and, ah, here it starts and continues here too.
Even a blind nut finds a squirrel once in a while. – Me! Feb 9, 2001
BigJon
2nd Chair
 
Posts: 1158
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2003 12:01 am
Location: Pennsylvania, USA

Postby Shapley » Sat Sep 30, 2006 11:41 am

You can stick your head in the sand all you want, but it doesn;t change the fact that we not only torture people, but we've just legalized it.


You know better than that - we've legalized nothing. The Repulicans on committee have reached agreement with President Bush on the wording of the document that will be voted on by the Senate committee, then by the full Senate, then by the whole Congress. Then it has to be signed by the President.

You have to read more than the headlines to find out what is going on here.

BTW, where are those defenders of the downtrodden, the Democrats? They've decided to sit on their arses on the sidelines and watch the whole thing. Their strategy for November is to tell the people "If you don't like the way things are being done - vote for us - we ain't doin' anything."

V/R
Shapley
Quod scripsi, scripsi.
Shapley
Patron
 
Posts: 15196
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Cape Girardeau, MO

Postby Shapley » Sat Sep 30, 2006 11:49 am

BigJon,

Thanks for posting the links to the old posts on the subject. I was going to rehash some of my comments, but you've saved me the trouble.

V/R
Shapley
Quod scripsi, scripsi.
Shapley
Patron
 
Posts: 15196
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Cape Girardeau, MO

Postby GreatCarouser » Sat Sep 30, 2006 2:31 pm

Shapley wrote:BigJon,

Thanks for posting the links to the old posts on the subject. I was going to rehash some of my comments, but you've saved me the trouble.

V/R
Shapley


This isn't a rehash, this is a new level on torture as now we are deeply in the process of legalizing it. If you read the older posts most on both sides felt once the allegations were proved that what happened shouldn't be allowed to happen again. This thread was started because of my concerns about our 'legalizing' some or all of the treatments used in Abu Gharaib as well as others, the authorization of the executive branch to suspend 'habeus corpus' for any it chooses to brand as 'terrorists' and the neutering of many of the safeguards of FISA. You don't think I'm naive enough to believe this President won't sign both the House and Senate Bills just passed do you, Shap? I don't think you're naive enough to believe he'd veto them.
Sacred cows make the best hamburger.
Mark Twain
GreatCarouser
2nd Chair
 
Posts: 1393
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 12:01 am
Location: Semi-permanent Vacation CA

Postby Shapley » Sat Sep 30, 2006 4:04 pm

GC,

No, I don't believe either you nor I are naive enough to believe that he won't sign them. My point in that message was to OT to point out that it is not yet law, contrary to his post.

I've also read beyond the headlines into what has been passed. No one, not even the President, is arguing that what happened in Abu Ghraib should be legalized. Nor is there any indication that what happened there was sanctioned by the government. Those responsible are bing punished.

The debate now is on the issue of the treatment of prisoners in Guatanemo Bay, not the prisoners in Abu Ghraib who, if the prison were still in use, would fall under the auspices of the Iraqi government.

Bush-Backed Detainee Bill Passes

More specifically, the debate falls on how far we extend coverage afforded by the Geneva Conventions to prisoners who are, or are suspected of being, part of a non-signatory group that do not meet the criteria for Geneva Convention protections. The President has stated quite clearly that we do not torture prisoners. The FBI has investigated and found no evidence that we torture prisoners. The 'evidence' thus far has been second- or third-hand reports of incidents, such as the over-reported Koran-flushing episode, that may or may not have happened, and that may or may not meet the definition of torture.

Someone cited the 'use of dogs' as torture. It may interest you to know that police and military use dogs routinely in the apprehension of criminals. Have you never seen the videos of police dog trainers, in full-protection padding, teaching dogs to take down and hold criminals? That is not torture - it is a proper method of apprehension and control.

V/R

Shapley
Last edited by Shapley on Sun Oct 01, 2006 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Quod scripsi, scripsi.
Shapley
Patron
 
Posts: 15196
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Cape Girardeau, MO

Postby OperaTenor » Sat Sep 30, 2006 5:36 pm

It looks like it's out of committee in the House:

Torture bill passes first hurdle

THE US House of Representatives has passed a controversial bill overnight concerning the treatment of detainees held in the US "war on terror," which has been denounced by human rights and constitutional law experts.

The bill, which President George W. Bush has called a critical tool for pursuing suspected terrorists, was passed in a 253-168 vote.


Big committee...

Hey! Looks like it passed a really big Senate committee, too!

Controversial New Legislation Rewrites Rules for U.S. Treatment of Terror Suspects

Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have approved controversial new legislation proposed by President Bush on the treatment and trials of terror suspects in U.S. custody. Following ten hours of debate, the Senate voted Thursday 65-34 in favor of the measure. The House had earlier approved a similar bill 253 to 168. Mr. Bush had urged final action on the measure before mid-term elections on November 7, and he's expected to sign it into law by week's end.


Molly Ivins weighs in:
My opinion Molly Ivins : Torturous legislation leaves scar on America
My opinion Molly Ivins
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.30.2006

AUSTIN, Texas
Oh dear. I'm sure he didn't mean it. In Illinois' 6th Congressional District, long represented by Henry Hyde, Republican candidate Peter Roskam accused his Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth of planning to "cut and run" on Iraq.
Duckworth is a former Army major and chopper pilot, who lost both legs in Iraq after her helicopter got hit by an RPG. "I just could not believe he would say that to me," said Duckworth, who walks on artificial legs and uses a cane. Every election cycle produces some wincers, but how do you apologize for that one?
The legislative equivalent of that remark is the detainee bill, now passed by Congress. Beloveds, this is so much worse than even that pathetic deal reached last week between the White House and Republican Sens. Warner, McCain and Graham. The White House has since reinserted a number of "technical fixes" that were the point of the putative "compromise." It leaves the president with the power to decide who is an enemy combatant.
This bill is not a national security issue — this is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies. Perhaps this could be considered if we knew the administration would use the power with enormous care and thoughtfulness. But of the more than 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a cover for torture of the innocent that has already taken place.
The first reported case of death by torture by Americans was in The New York Times in 2003 by Carlotta Gall. The military had announced the prisoner died of a heart attack, but when Gall actually saw the death certificate, written in English and issued by the military, it said the cause of death was homicide. The "heart attack" came after he had been beaten so often on his legs that they had "basically been pulpified," according to the coroner.
The story of why and how it took the Times so long to print this information is in the current edition of the Columbia Journalism Review. The press in general has been late and slow in reporting torture, so very few Americans have any idea how far it has spread. As is often true in hierarchical, top-down institutions, the orders get passed on in what I call the downward communications exaggeration spiral.
For example, on a newspaper, a top editor may remark casually, "Let's give the new mayor a chance to see what he can do before we start attacking him."
This gets passed on as, "Don't touch the mayor unless he really screws up."
And it ultimately arrives at the reporter level as, "We can't say anything negative about the mayor."
The version of the detainee bill in the Senate not only undoes much of the McCain-Warner-Graham work, but it is actually much worse than the administration's first proposal. In one change, the original compromise language said a suspect had the right to "examine and respond to" all evidence used against him. The three senators said the clause was necessary to avoid secret trials. The bill dropped the word "examine" and left only "respond to."
In another change, a clause said that evidence obtained outside the United States could be admitted in court even if it had been gathered without a search warrant. But the bill dropped the words "outside the United States," which means prosecutors can ignore American legal standards on warrants.
The bill also expands the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant to cover anyone who "has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." Quick, define "purposefully and materially." One person has already been charged with aiding terrorists because he sold a satellite TV package that includes the Hezbollah network.
The bill simply removes a suspect's right to challenge his detention in court. This is a rule of law that goes back to the Magna Carta in 1215.
As Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident, wrote, an intelligence service free to torture soon "degenerates into a playground for sadists." But not unbridled sadism — you will be relieved that the compromise took out the words permitting interrogation involving "severe pain" and substituted "serious pain," which is defined as "bodily injury that involves extreme physical pain."
In July 2003, George Bush said in a speech: "The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes, whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit."
Fellow citizens, this bill throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems it necessary — these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law.
My opinion
Molly Ivins

We're a signature away from legalizing it, and do you think for a minute GWB's going to veto his own bill?[/quote]
"To help mend the world is true religion."
- William Penn

http://www.one.org
OperaTenor
Patron
 
Posts: 10457
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Paradise with Piq & Altoid, southern California

Postby GreatCarouser » Sat Sep 30, 2006 7:45 pm

On the 60th anniversary of Nuremberg we pass those bills...

"...The Nuremberg trials presupposed something about the human conscience: that moral choice doesn't take its cues solely from narrow legalisms and technicalities. The new detainee bill takes precisely the opposite stance..."

"And then there is section 8(3), which says that "the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions." Section (B) makes it clear that his interpretation "shall be authoritative (as to non-grave breach provisions)...."

and much, much more.....
Sacred cows make the best hamburger.
Mark Twain
GreatCarouser
2nd Chair
 
Posts: 1393
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 12:01 am
Location: Semi-permanent Vacation CA

Postby shostakovich » Sat Sep 30, 2006 10:43 pm

I believe the new law allows the president to determine who is a "terrorist", and that person may be held indefinitely without charge. And any parts of the new new law that the prez does not like can be dismissed by a "signing statement" behind closed doors after he has publicly signed it into law. Apparently he has learned to write with his fingers crossed. What a guy!
Shos
shostakovich
1st Chair
 
Posts: 3393
Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2000 1:01 am
Location: windsor, ct, usa

Postby piqaboo » Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:22 am

BigJon wrote:What are the rules when un-uniformed, possibly stateless, combatants take up arms against U.S. forces? Where should we send them when they are captured? Should we bring 'em all here to the mainland and put them through the criminal justice system?


The British had that problem some 230 years ago....

BTW - Empress Maria Theresa codified her empires acceptable "interrogation techniques", including detailed instructions and drawings on how to perform each. Doesnt make it less horrific.

"They are not eligible because they dont wear uniforms" is pathetic.
We are not fighting an army that issues uniforms. Since we've done a little guerrilla action ourselves, we should understand the utility of that.

We're trading freedom for the illusion of security. It scares me.
Altoid - curiously strong.
piqaboo
1st Chair
 
Posts: 7135
Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 12:01 am
Location: Paradise (So. Cal.)

Next

Return to The Debate Team

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users

cron