Michael's Dispatches

Torture is Wrong

107 Comments

24 April 2009

From Borneo

The British Army runs various jungle training courses in the friendly country of Brunei, on Borneo Island.  I am with a British Army Gurkha battalion and am going through 21 days of combat tracking training at one of the best tracking schools in the world.  Most of the students and all of the instructors are combat veterans.  Very good group to be with. There are Dutch, British and Gurkha students.  This course is about combat, so it’s doggone clear that the Dutch are serious about fighting in Afghanistan.  Nobody would need this course unless they were planning on tracking down bad guys.  (Part of the training deals with preparation for Afghanistan.)  Obviously the Brits/Gurkhas are serious about Afghanistan, so no more needs to be said on that.

We are very busy with the tracking training, so I've got just short periods at a time to write.  It's refreshingly hot and humid in Borneo.  Sweat is the scent of the day.  Last couple of days was all jungle time and had one good overnight in the jungle so far.  The jungle is very nice here, not like some jungles I’ve seen.  Only a few mosquitoes, for instance, but some other jungles are like mosquito farms.

But I am trying to also track on the mushrooming torture issue.  This sad issue is damaging our great country.  I've written extensively on the issue but actually published very little.  Joe Galloway has something out again today.  Looks like Joe is polishing up his bat to start punishing the Obama crowd.  Many of us remember that Joe treated the Bush bunch like baby seals.

I've got to get back to the training.  Can't keep the British Army waiting.  Meanwhile, please see this column by the one and only, Joe Galloway:

Commentary: Obama and D.C. dance the torture minuet
By Joseph L. Galloway | McClatchy Newspapers

There they go again, those folks in Washington, D.C. Everyone wants the power; nobody wants the responsibility.

We're back to the question of which Bush administration officials ordered Justice Department lawyers to concoct some legal way to use illegal torture methods on the prisoners we were taking in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

It appears that no one in power or recently out of power wants to know the answer to that question.

The Republicans in Congress, who resemble nothing so much as a dwindling flock of whooping cranes, have been nothing but surly since last November. Now they’re threatening to get nasty if the Democrats across the aisle insist on unearthing the truth - the who, what, when, where and why - about the torture question.

(Spare me your e-mails about how waterboarding isn't torture; even John McCain, who knows more about torture than you do, agrees that it is.)

President Barack Obama doesn't want or need this issue sucking all the oxygen out of the Congress and his ambitious agenda, and he just wishes it would go away. His position, if you can call it that, changes daily, if not hourly. He and his people look and sound like a hokey-pokey line on the issue.

The problem is that they're all thinking and acting like politicians, and there's nothing in this issue for any of them except an opportunity to do the right thing. Whoever won an election by doing the right thing? Talking about doing the right thing is another matter.

Torture, however, isn't a political problem, but a legal and moral problem, and therein lies the painful rub.

The new president and his administration released a few of the Top Secret memos that show how and why the lawyers in the Bush Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) went to work turning criminal acts into just another day at the office for CIA and military interrogation officials.

Then, however, the president hurried out to McLean, Va. to assure CIA employees that none of them will ever face prosecution for just following orders and using methods that they thought were legal - even though one of his first acts as chief executive was to halt the use of torture and order the closing of Guantanamo prison.

Next, the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, released a long-delayed timeline of how the torture issue wended its way from the highest offices in the land to the OLC and across the Potomac to the Pentagon and CIA headquarters and down to cells in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and rent-a-dungeons hidden away around the world.

In the process, we learned that one high-ranking al Qaida prisoner was subjected to waterboarding, a barbaric tool in the torturer's kit that involves suffocation and near-drowning, not one time for 20 seconds, as reported earlier, but 83 times. Khalid Sheikh Mohamed got the same treatment 183 times, or an average of six times a day.

The new director of national intelligence, Navy Adm. Dennis Blair, said that some useful information was squeezed out of the torture chambers, but he isn't certain that this information couldn't have been gained without resorting to techniques borrowed from the Spanish Inquisition.

Former Bush administration luminaries, beginning with former Vice President Darth Cheney and proceeding down the chain, hasten to declare that torturing those people made America safe, or safer than it was on 9/11, when they were all ignoring a CIA warning that Osama bin Laden was "determined to strike in U.S.."

Even if you believe that the end justifies the means and ignore the numerous factual flaws in this ex post facto defense, it doesn't address the question of how many of the 4,954 American troops who’ve been killed to date in Afghanistan and Iraq were killed by Islamic jihadists who were recruited in part by the revelations that we were torturing helpless Muslims. How much safer did those orders to torture make our young men and women?

The plain fact is that waterboarding is illegal under U.S. law. It's illegal under international laws and treaties that we helped negotiate, we approved and we adhered to until President Bush and his men and women decided that we wouldn't.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont has revived his proposal for a bipartisan Truth Commission to investigate the well-known and less well-known authors of this legal and moral outrage. If the Republicans continue to refuse to participate, as they have so far, he says, then he's prepared to launch a congressional investigation.

What's truly disheartening is to watch all the ducking, bobbing and weaving in the nation's capital - like so many powder-haired dandies prancing a minuet.

Yes, it's an ugly chapter in the life of a nation that prides itself on its freedoms and its rule of law. But it's more than that: It's a splendid opportunity for a bunch of politicians from both parties to find their spines, or borrow some, and get to work cleaning out the dark corners in the White House and emptying the closets of skeletons.


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Agent of Mass Denial · 12 years ago
    Aren't you guys the same people who complained bitterly about the use of 'Torture' (white noise, stress positions) by the British Army in Northern Ireland. So now it's OK? Please explain.....
    We stopped doing the relatively mild stuff (compared to water boarding and use of attack dogs that is) in NI!:
    1. Because the US and Europe complained. And we respected their opinion.
    2. Because it was proving counter productive - even some comparatively de-motivated young Irish lads we're taking up arms when word got out about what we were up to. They probably wouldn't have had we behaved appropriately. By using torture, whatever the short term gains are perceived to be, you are losing the information war, success in which is key to any winning strategy in the asymmetric struggle WE ARE ALL IN.
    And, here's some news for those of you church goin' Republicans who think this is a modern Crusade: Most of the 'Taleban' are not religious fanatics! For example, my friend had a meal with a Taleban commander who we were trying to 'turn'. His wife sat by him during the entire meal and often chipped in with comments on the situation in Helmand. That sound like an Islamic Fundamentalist to you...? Many are just ordinary guys who want us out of their country because we represent a corrupt central government they despise - this sound familiar to you guys? I hear the same complaint from you about your government all the bloody time!
    Oh and Tommy, having served alongside Ghurkhas on several occasions in the past, I have to tell you that no-one in Britain would EVER have called them 'Wogs', you Muppet.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Carol · 12 years ago
    Wow, what a slap in our faces! Many countries use America when it suits them ... and then bash it when it's politically beneficial. Feel free to move to a country that doesn't torture. I happen to be proud of my country, mistakes and all. I've always said the politicians should be allowed to work in Washington for four years and then move over and let someone else take the seat. That way we can clean out all the garbage. The damage comments like yours is doing to this country is disgusting.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    WSBowles · 12 years ago
    What's torture is reading poorly written, tired arguments from Joseph L. Galloway.

    I want to know how Galloway comes to the conclusion that terrorists captured on the battlefield, or were known terrorists leaders are "innocent Muslims." Or, how he knows that scads of knew terrorists were recruited when it was revealed that waterboarding existed. Did that revelation recruit more people than, say, terrorists broadcasting cutting off people's heads on Al Jazeera? Inquiring minds want to know.

    This is the state of journalism that plays fast and loose with the facts.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 12 years ago
    I wish to be PC and state that no animals (or humans) were injured in the making of my last comment!
    To dissuade all attempts to label me an animal abuser I wish give evidence me lord!
    Follow this link to see the "tortured" cat;-) http://tommybarrios.com/media/photos/photos-maxxphotos-maxx
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike Mike · 12 years ago
    I find disappointment in the fact that beyond the debate relating to torture, when I realize that the terrorists are in prisons being readied to be released - possibly in the USA - I step back and think to myself, "Damn. Why didn't we just kill them? We should have when we had the chance." And I agree with Ken's priorities quite a lot. I just can't seem to reason that a little water in the face is anywhere catamount to videotaped broadcasted beheadings, and beyond as Ken mentioned. F*ck them. F*ck the terrorists. We shoulda killed them when we had the chance. Now organizations and proponents of 'terrorist care' are creating an "insurgency at home". Is this lunacy or is it just me? I like to think it's not just me...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike Mike · 12 years ago
    I find disappointment in the fact that beyond the debate relating to torture, when I realize that the terrorists are in prisons being readied to be released - possibly in the USA - I step back and think to myself, "Damn. Why didn't we just kill them? We should have when we had the chance." And I agree with Ken's priorities quite a lot. I just can't seem to reason that a little water in the face is anywhere tantamount to videotaped broadcasted beheadings, and beyond as Ken mentioned. F*ck them. F*ck the terrorists. We shoulda killed them when we had the chance. Now organizations and proponents of 'terrorist care' are creating an "insurgency at home". Is this lunacy or is it just me? I like to think it's not just me...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JT · 12 years ago
    I thought waterboarding was kinda like trying a witch back in Salem... if he drowns, hes not a terrorist. hehe
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cecil Trotter · 12 years ago
    Yes, torture is wrong. You'd be hard to find many westerners who would not agree with that. But is water boarding torture, that is the real question.

    Why not see what the experts have to say, the experts on torture that is: Al Qaeda

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0524072torture1.html

    You won't see water boarding in their hand book of torture. What you will see is descriptions of REAL torture. None of which seem to be inspired by some evil act committed by Americans (or more specifically, American presidents of the GOP persuasion).

    I wonder if Joe Galloway will blame the Obama administration for any deaths that result from the imminent release of more Abu Ghraib photos? Seems the democrats feel the need to dig up that dead horse and beat it some more, regardless of the repercussions.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kudzu35 · 12 years ago
    And this isn't torture.

    I said it before and that's all I can say now. I know Mr. Yon and Mr. Galloway are likely on the same thought when it comes to waterboarding, which is all anyone is calling torture now, but even then, no one died from it apparently. If they did then someone should go to jail for obviously violating a law.

    The decisions to use enhanced interrogation techniques look to be throughly thought out legal opinion not based on a political decision.

    I'm sure aborting a child isn't torture though... but you still kill a life. Yet its legal... hmm. Priorities people, priorities.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 12 years ago
    Under the lame brained liberal loon guidelines, having a debate on torture, would be considered torture!

    Zeig Hiel, Obomber, Reich Fuhrer Pelosi!, and Ober Kommander Reid!

    Look for the ƒ??Brown Shirtsƒ? to appear next!

    PS The link in my last missive about my cat is FUBAR: http://tommybarrios.com/media/photos/photos-maxx
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 12 years ago
    "I have to tell you that no-one in Britain would EVER have called them 'Wogs'"

    I was referring to the time when Britain was an OCCUPYING FORCE in a sovereign country called INDIA, when all INDIANS including the loyal Gurkha where indeed called "wogs", you British FOP!

    Also do dare try to preach to us about ANYTHING, when your country stood for centuries as one of the worst progenitors of murder, rapine, subjugation, exploitation, slavery and a host of other atrocities, all the name of the glorious imperialistic empire, Britannia!

    Yeah ya'll where big stuff on the planet, until you met the colonials, eh:-)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Stevend · 12 years ago
    It seems to me that the situation in NI has sorted itself out pretty well. So you should be happy for the advice. Did Britain imprison John Major or Maggie Thatchet (or whoever else was using waterboarding)? Did the USA suggest that? No the USA did not!

    Obama has dregged up memos from 6-7 years ago and is considering whether crimes were committed. Obama kisses Castro's ass, Obama kisses Chavez's ass, Obama kisses Iran's ass, he kisses North Korean ass, but he wants to imprison his political opposition in the USA. It's a disgusting politics.

    Oh and, btw, by the time word leaked out about the USA use of waterboarding, the USA also put a stop to it. This was not and is not an on-going effort.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Patrick · 12 years ago
    Wow. I wasn't aware people thought water boarding was so acceptable and useful. I guess they ignore a number of important things, like the long-term consequences of using torture. If anyone is here in denial, it's not Mr. Galloway, rather it's those of you who seem to think the U.S. can do no wrong, and is always right in their actions. Don't be so naive and blind. Anyone who is an absolute patriot doesn't know enough about their country. Our current president is actually attempting to perform diplomatic and political surgery with tact and intelligence, rather than acting like a bull in the china shop, which is what our former president seemed to think was okay. It's not the 1950s anymore, the world is far more complex and sensitive to the things a nation does.
    And has anyone actually put thought into the sort of world created when the supposed leader of the free world does not abide by international law? The only way to prevent future terrorists from attacking us is not to go around torturing people who may or may not be terrorists, guaranteeing new enemies. Terrorism is like a particularly virulent germ, to kill it you don't go after it alone, you deny it an environment to flourish in. Killing terrorists is fine, but that will never eliminate them. Take away it's source, it's discontented masses, the misunderstanding and ignorance, the poverty and hatred, and you deny it the population it draws its strength from. Bludgeoning them into submission won't happen, sorry cave men.
    And lastly, Obama seems to realize something so many of his critics do not. War is far more costly than diplomacy, both in dollars and in lives. Extending an invitation to negotiate, open dialog, at the very least create some sort of understanding between two countries costs less than the shattered lives of the maimed, the dead, and the psychologically damaged. Mr. Bush did not seem to think lives or money was important, and so now we find ourselves deeply in debt, far more than ever before, with a line of flag-draped caskets extending off into the distance. A little diplomacy would have saved the lives of some of our brave soldiers, without question. Torture doesn't foster understanding or lay the groundwork for peace, it generates anger, resentment, and misunderstanding, the groundwork for more terrorism. Consequences folks, consequences.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike · 12 years ago
    Well, Patrick, I think we all understand that in your world turture generates terrorism. In fact, you go so far as to say the "only way to prevent future terrorists from attacking us is to not go around torturing people".

    The *only* way. If you could spare an ounce of your surpassing understanding of the terrorist mindset - I, personally, have no idea what drives a man to wish to commit mass murder/suicide for religious gain, and will defer to your insight - please explain how the '9 WTC bombing and the 9/11 attacks fit into this "torture:terrorism" causation theory?

    Or, perhaps, could people who wish to die in the name of their Religion and kill as many innocent people as possible simply be driven by things beyond your understanding? Again, I don't understand the terrorist mindset like you do, but really am wondering if I'm just bat sh** crazy to think that.

    If not - and I'll assume you're correct, here - just explain where we were torturing people prior to '9 or 9/11 and thus caused these people to harden against us and decide, logically of course, to simply radicalize and assume the jihad.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Erik · 12 years ago
    Joe couldn't have said it better. This isn't about 1 interrogator who crossed the line with the 'ticking time-bomb' scenario (which is extremely rare). This is about implementing torture as a national policy. Torture should never be given legal or political topcover. If a gator feels the need to cross the line, he should be held accountable for his actions. If it really was a ticking time-bomb scenario that saved lives that were imminently threatened, than let a jury of his peers acquit him. Otherwise, we're no better than any other third-world despot.

    Torture is a tool of the inept, unskilled interrogator. Unless all you're looking for is a confession of guilt for some kangaroo court, it is counter-productive from an intelligence collection stand point. And guess what, we're in the most intelligence-driven war we've ever faced. We need bad guys to tell us what they know ... WILLINGLY!!! That only comes from a skilled, knowledgeable interrogation team (gator and analyst). And guess what, it can be done surprisingly fast with a competent crew. It's all about knowing your target, at the micro level. Hell, typically the only guys that are the hard-cases are low-level pipe-swingers who don't know shit anyways. The more important guys are typically a little older and have more to lose from incarceration. Funny what a wife, kid and a mortgage will do to even the most fervent extremist! From my perspective, the shift from mass sweeps and arrests to more focused targeting was/is also a significant contributing factor. Good gators and analysts aren't a dime-a-dozen. You don't want to waste the time of a skilled crew having to conduct triage of mass groups of detainees all the time. The action arms need to make sure they are only sending up the right people as well , so the burden ain't entirely on the gator team.

    For those that say we should treat the enemy like they treat us seriously need to go back and reread our nation's history and how it came to be. That's the morality aspect. I'd also recommend the book 'The Accidental Guerrilla' and learn who we're really fighting over there. Torture only pushes more of the fence-sitters into the laps of the enemy. Abu G confirmed for millions of young takfiri-extremists what AQ's propaganda machine had been saying for years. Hell, AQSL must have been beside themselves when we played right into their propaganda. It was a windfall for them. Those that think this didn't play a part in drawing thousands of foreign extremists to Iraq to fuel the insurgency need to pull their heads out of their asses. The abuses at Abu G did more to fuel (and prolong) the insurgency than just about any other single act of the war (except maybe the Samarra shrine bombing).

    and lastly, regardless of the crimes these people have committed; at the end of the day, once they are in handcuffs (or otherwise disarmed), they are human beings who deserve to be treated humanely. Just because! That's who we are.

    Erik
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Erik · 12 years ago
    Joe couldn't have said it better. This isn't about 1 interrogator who crossed the line with the 'ticking time-bomb' scenario (which is extremely rare). This is about implementing torture as a national policy. Torture should never be given legal or political topcover. If a gator feels the need to cross the line, he should be held accountable for his actions. If it really was a ticking time-bomb scenario that saved lives that were imminently threatened, than let a jury of his peers acquit him. Otherwise, we're no better than any other third-world despot.

    Torture is a tool of the inept, unskilled interrogator. Unless all you're looking for is a confession of guilt for some kangaroo court, it is counter-productive from an intelligence collection stand point. And guess what, we're in the most intelligence-driven war we've ever faced. We need bad guys to tell us what they know ... WILLINGLY!!! That only comes from a skilled, knowledgeable interrogation team (gator and analyst). And guess what, it can be done surprisingly fast with a competent crew. It's all about knowing your target, at the micro level. Hell, typically the only guys that are the hard-cases are low-level pipe-swingers who don't know shit anyways. The more important guys are typically a little older and have more to lose from incarceration. Funny what a wife, kid and a mortgage will do to even the most fervent extremist! From my perspective, the shift from mass sweeps and arrests to more focused targeting was/is also a significant contributing factor. Good gators and analysts aren't a dime-a-dozen. You don't want to waste the time of a skilled crew having to conduct triage of mass groups of detainees all the time. The action arms need to make sure they are only sending up the right people as well , so the burden ain't entirely on the gator team.

    For those that say we should treat the enemy like they treat us seriously need to go back and reread our nation's history and how it came to be. That's the morality aspect. I'd also recommend the book 'The Accidental Guerrilla' and learn who we're really fighting over there. Torture only pushes more of the fence-sitters into the laps of the enemy. Abu G confirmed for millions of young takfiri-extremists what AQ's propaganda machine had been saying for years. Hell, AQSL must have been beside themselves when we played right into their propaganda. It was a windfall for them. Those that think this didn't play a part in drawing thousands of foreign extremists to Iraq to fuel the insurgency need to pull their heads out of their asses. The abuses at Abu G did more to fuel (and prolong) the insurgency than just about any other single act of the war (except maybe the Samarra shrine bombing).

    and lastly, regardless of the crimes these people have committed; at the end of the day, once they are in handcuffs (or otherwise disarmed), they are human beings who deserve to be treated humanely. Just because! That's who we are.

    Erik
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Patrick · 12 years ago
    Well Mike you'll have to excuse me, you seem to have caught a typo where I let myself get a little too emotional over what I was writing. What I meant to write, was one way to avoid creating future terrorists, is to not torture. Torture certainly creates animosity against the United States, even in our allies, and what's to say the information it brought about would even be useful? If you use torture, the moral standards that separate you from the terrorists become somewhat blurred. And no, I do not know what makes people want to destroy a building full of innocent people, and to be honest I never will. But I have no doubt there are many terrorists that are ignorant of America's better qualities and are showed those highly visible negative ones, making them into our enemies. Don't break international law and lower our own moral standards, and who knows, those Islamic extremists might find their lists of new recruits a little shorter than before. Of course it won't stop it, but it might help, and we won't give away our humanity in the process.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Stevend · 12 years ago
    You don't like GWB and you like BHO. We get it.

    Other than that, you are repeating talking points, but not making a coherent argument. In fact, your rhetoric is the exact witch hunt that I fear most.

    First, your factual errors:

    1. You automatically conflate water boarding with torture. There is a legitimate disagreement on whether or not that is accurate.

    2. Who said the US can do no wrong? No one.

    . There was no breaking of international law.

    4. Enhanced interrogation methods were used only rarely. When it was done, it was done within defined medical parameters and only on very bad men. It was not used on folks who may or may not be terrorists.

    You also make many policy mistakes and misinterpretations of history:

    1. Standing up to evil is the only way to defeat evil. Left alone, evil will metastasize into greater evil. See Nazi Germany or Al Queada itself, which was allowed to grow throught the 1980s and 90s.

    2. No one understands the high cost of war more than the readership here at Michael Yon. You are right that War is more expensive than diplomacy. However, if a war must be waged, it is better to fight a war when an enemy is weak, and defeat that enemy as quickly as possible. Allowing your enemy to get too strong so they can attack you is inviting disaster.

    . You do not seem to realize that "Al queada" is not a country. Who are you negotiating with? What are you willing to bargain away and what concessions are you expecting in return?

    4. Your attacks on GWB are banal. Get a new trick. For example, I have no idea what 'little diplomacy' was missing from GWB. A great deal of diplomatic outreaches were made....frequently. You are just misinformed. And if you hate the budget deficits from 2001-07, you must be really fuming with the Obama spending plan. Or do you admit your hypocacy?

    5. By the way, are you at outraged that BHO had those Somali pirates killed? Is killing Somali pirates just creating more pirates? I mean, those kids didn't even get a trial. Isn't that cave-man like?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Stevend · 12 years ago
    Erik,
    No, it is not about instituting torture as a national policy. I disagree.

    It's about defining how far an interrogator can go using enhanced interrogation methods.

    These methods were used rarely.

    It's obvious from the memos that doing so was not done without careful consideration. It was felt to be necessary. In the aftermath of 9/11, it was a ticking time-bomb scenario. Did it work? I don't know. I've heard both yes and no said as fact. But if it was done in a limited manner to save Americans, I'm not going to judge it in the negative.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 12 years ago
    My dear poor ignorant Patrick. The only who is naive here is you! I like logic instead of feel good emotional rhetoric, that in today world will only get you killed! But let's play Patrick's little Kumbya game of play nice and have tea and crumpets with murdering scum dictators and murdering Islamic fascists!

    He talks about having understanding of the aforementioned scum without having real understanding of who he is even talking about. He talks like these fascist dictators are some disgruntled street thugs that can be coerced with bribes and coddling. That they can somehow be educated to error of their ways by sending them to a rhetorical international community college of kumbya mind think! Excuse me while I laugh my ass off at that one!

    Yes we can be rest assured that Obomber and his ilk will talk us right out all the world's problems and into peace and prosperity by playing nice with all the worlds international thugs!

    Patrick you rest your families safety and security on that BS, I'll rest mine on the loyal patriotic NSA agents who are working hard 24/7/ 65 to defeat the terrorist thugs and their supporters rather than play nice and talk nice!

    Can I get a big AMEN?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley, CDR, · 12 years ago
    http://www.slate.com/id/2216709/
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lou · 12 years ago
    I'm so sick of hearing people bitching about water boarding as "torture". BUT NO ONE is telling me how to get info from the enemies we capture, NO ONE! How do we get intel? A nice bubble bath and a massage? Jihad can be stressful!

    How is it an AH-64 Apache whose machine gun dismembers and pops enemies like a zit is OK but faking a drowning is an " ugly chapter in the life of a nation"! Get the hell out of here with that crap.Or how about a grenade thrown into a room of jihadis? I don't mind an Apache going after these barbarians neither do I mind chucking grenades before entering a fine establishment! Neither do I mind terrorists getting "baptized" with a gallon of a water shooting through their nose.

    Is water boarding fun? No! Is it rough? Yes! but is it torture? No!

    How many readers of this blog have gone to SERE school?

    Ironic, these memos come out when King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein arrives. The same King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein who on a morning talk show said we "torture". Gotta love the Muslim brotherhood!

    The Taliban pulls the skin off of peoples heads. Our troops have been mutilated and their genitals cut off and you're boo hooing about a mind game.

    So, please sir, what would you do with these animals? GIVE ME A FREAKIN' SOLUTION!!!

    Is it any worse than say partial birth abortion or leaving abortion survivors to die in an empty room? Not even in the same ballpark.


    So until I see rage from you Mr. Galloway and that wussy CINC we call Barack Hussein Obama about the destruction of children and leaving them to DIE I could give a rats a$% about a terrorist getting "stung" by an insect that doesn't sting and a hairy bastard, who cuts off heads and planned the deaths of thousands of my country men, who gets a bad day at the water park.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jerome L Lorenz · 12 years ago
    The Galloway article is possibly the stupidest I've ever read. This whole waterboarding torture thing is simply an attention dodge away from the disaster that Obama is perpetrating on our once great country. The fact is that shortly after 9/11 this extraction method was successful in preventing another attack on our homeland and every leading member of Congress including Nancy was apprised and approved of it.

    It is perfectly obvious that we have taken one of the tools off the table for obtaining intelligence. I'm sure that the Al Quaeda have been training their people, as do we, how to resist this technique ever since they heard about our use of it. Now they won't even have to do that. If we don't soon get serious about fighting this Jihad instead of asking the world's forgiveness for protecting ourselves we'll take out values to the grave.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley, CDR, · 12 years ago
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/24/AR200904240 171.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST200904240 2 1

    And yes, I've been to SERE school and was one of the few waterboarded. Much info is now coming out. My final decision on torture is on hold but I am against it, basically for a variety of reasons.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cecil Trotter · 12 years ago
    ƒ??High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaƒ??ida organization that was attacking this country,ƒ? Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/us/politics/22blair.html?_r=1&hp
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Elizabeth Caruso · 12 years ago
    Why did the Democrats agree to the CIA METHODS of interrogation and are now denying that they knew anything about them? We do need to clean out the dark corners of the White House, but it will take some time, since the darkness has been accumulating for a long, long time.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley, CDR, · 12 years ago
    Subsequent to that memo, Adm. Blair also said...

    "The information gained from these techniques was valuable in some instances, but there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means,ƒ? Admiral Blair said in a written statement issued last night. ƒ??The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

    I would like to see released the information that was obtained thru torture that can be directly linked to preventing an imminent attack as the former VP has requested. I oppose prosecution of anyone. I could care less who did or didn't agree. These are politicians we are talking about, after all.
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    senorlechero · 12 years ago
    You've twice now said that you've been through SERE school, and now say you were waterboarded. Are you a retired SEAL or pilot? Where did you go to SERE school? When?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley, CDR, · 12 years ago
    Before going to Vietnam as an advisor of vietnamese gunboats at Warner Springs, CA. I take it from your question that you have never been. Have you?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Carol · 12 years ago
    What do I get the feeling that you think you're right and everybody else is wrong? I won't ever change my opinion about waterboarding just like you won't. Let others have their opinions because we live in America. Once again, retired military doesn't make you smarter than the rest of us.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    senorlechero · 12 years ago
    I've never made the claim I was. You did. I'm surprised as usually only Aircrews and Special Operators go through SERE school. What was your MOS?

    Here is a link to a blog where a guy describes being waterboarded...at Warner Springs. He says the obvious...."It's bad, but not Torture"

    http://cajunhuguenot1.blogspot.com/2006/11/what-is-water-boarding-first-hand_06.html
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cecil Trotter · 12 years ago
    Defining torture:

    http://engram-backtalk.blogspot.com/2009/04/be-brave-and-be-serious-draw-torture.html
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cecil Trotter · 12 years ago
    Admiral Blairs statement that the cons of "torture" (though I still contend water boarding is NOT torture) outweigh the pros is only his opinion and cannot be quantified. That significant intel was obtained through water boarding is not opinion but measurable fact.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JadedSage · 12 years ago
    I've never seen so many right wing crybabies in my life. On one hand you praise Mr. Yon for his reporting and then when he supports American values by attacking torture he is a vile man. Obama was elected to douse out the flames caused by eight years of Bush/Cheney. He is living up to his word. What do you think was contained in the CIA video that was destroyed? I'm sure it wasn't a pie eating contest. The current debate hasn't even touched on the real heinous crime committed by the last administration: rendition. You can title this, "When waterboarding serves as an appetizer".

    One commenter wrote that war is black and white. It is either killed or be killed. That is the rational that got us Bush. War is not so cut and dry. If it was kill or be killed we would just go in and carpet bomb Iraq. There are choices in wartime and a lot of them involve gray. It is that gray space in which the public is debating now. I believe that by not torturing, America is safer. Keep up the good work Mr. Yon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael · 12 years ago
    I have no experience to speak of interrogating the likes of Al Quaeda, and frankly am wrestling with the issue. But I don't think that waterboarding falls in the same category as what is commonly thought as torture. Remember the news releases of Al Qaedas illustrated torture manual?? Look up the phrase Al Quaeda torture manual and see it for yourself. If there is not a difference between waterboarding, and using drills, blowtorches, cleavers, and the list goes on and on to decapitate, break bones, give third degree burns, rip out eyes, and more, than everyone is being dishonest.

    I would like to see an honest medical comparison with someone who survived waterboarding, with the methods in Al Qaedas manual! Some of the participants of this board say they have been through waterboarding and I will respect that. I intend no disrepect to their experience, but if the protesters were to stand them in comparison with a survivor of Al Qaedas methods, the difference would be more like comparing probation with capital punishment.

    Respectfully
    Michael
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike Pierce · 12 years ago
    I have to say Yon, I do not have your SIX on this one! I think you are an intelligent, isnightfull, Writer & photographer, What we need in 'The box'. I trully cannot eqaute WB with torture. Obama is nothing but a piece of
    shit 'community organizer' who is WAY out of his league as "Leader" of the Free World! He is a Little-League Ballplayer
    who through GOD ONLY KNOWS HOW managed to get enough Wall Streeters,etc, to BUY & STEAL the damn election!
    The release of these papers was nothing but a cheap damn polotical move to 'Get a little heat off NObama'! Look at how
    fast this FALSE "LEADER" RUSHED to the CIA to kiss a little ass & grovel & bow to try to keep The Agency happy! He
    didn't bow to them as he did the Saudi King, Not that the MSM would have reported it if he did! They are all his BEST
    Spokesmen! If this saved ONE American life, IT WAS DAMN WELL WORTH IT!!! This has been going on since the 60's,Probably longer than that!
    Now it is being used as a polotical tool by Obama, Truth, Plain & Simple, Like it or Not! aFTER 40 years this has suddenely
    made us the "Bad Guys" Bullshit! Obama, Pelosi, at work again!!! Pulling out fingernails, electric shocks, cig burns, beatings,
    etc, THAT ISTORTURE, This is purely MENTAL! Yes, Some discomfort but mostly the mind reacting to a natural instinct,
    Most talk in under a minute! Bush & Cheney DID NOT start anything new, The MSM may have a lot of 'sheeple' falling for this obama "I'm the Good Guy" Bullshit, But many know better!!!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    scott Dudley · 12 years ago
    Carol- I am absolutley certain that there are subjects where you are smarter than I. Military matters is not one of them.

    Snortechero- I didn't say you went thru SERE, I asked you if you did. Some would see the distinction. MOS is an army term so I guess you spent a few years in that branch. The riverine base I worked out of was Nam Can on the Cau Lon river on the southernmost tip of Vietnam and definitely in indian country. I am pretty sure every navy guy there from the senior naval advisor to the lowest ranking enlisted went thru SERE simply because of the location. And there were many similar bases like that in country so a lot of non-SEAL/pilots went thru SERE training.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Brian Astley · 12 years ago
    Having read through every comment, and previously given thought to what I consider to be torture. I read the memos, and believe I understand the Geneva convention (which has no application to these evil people, due to their tactics not our lack of compassion)
    I do not consider Waterboarding as it was used as torture. It was not indiscriminate but directed and limited, with specific intent that when achieved was ceased. The lengths the legal opinions went to, determining what they believed was within the law was a very difficult thing to do. Lawyers do not render moral opinions, they unfortunately are trained to think legally. (one of my major complaints about the profession) These lawyers that wrote the opinions in the memos did not put forth their personal opinions, but what they could find written and codified in treaties and agreements that the U.S. of A. is bound to honor.
    No one has ever determined where the line is. Its not pornography, I know it when I see it!
    Just asking for this opinion shows courage, rendering the facts of what was found was brave, not valorous perhaps. But this was their arena, no one has argued that they incorrectly cited the laws as they found them. Just that it wasn't a nice thing for the U.S. to do, while we needed to know what could be done so that it would not be exceeded, and to protect those that had the distasteful task. Or do you think they were salivating to press another human, in a hard manner?
    KSM and his compatriots have by their actions at trial shown that what we did to them was not torture, they are healthier in body than ever before. And quick of wit in their sort. Their mindset was a train wreck before they came into our custody, in my opinion. And short of making them watch American television I dare say we could not hurt them further.
    So if you can find fault in the legal logic of the opinions proffered by the memos, do so. Otherwise stop being the critic that is not in the arena!
    And I could not give a tinkers dam about 'world opinion'
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Carol · 12 years ago
    These are your opinions. That's all. Otherwise, you'd be making the laws. I don't have to be retired military to understand the damage that these idiots in Washington are causing to this country ... far worse than any waterboarding will ever do.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley · 12 years ago
    Just curious. I merely said I know more about military matters than you. I am pretty comfortable with that statement. What is your military experience. BTW, opinions are generally not wrong. Some are better informed than others, that's all. When you say someone else's opinion is wrong, I don't get it.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    senorlecheros · 12 years ago
    Mr. Dudley, Your attempts to insult me with cute variations of my handle are cute. They don't bother me (and I've seen far funnier...and more rude) and I do chuckle when you post them.

    I never said you said I said I went through SERE. I answered your question "Have you?".meaning have I been through SERE school?) with "I never made the claim I had". And when I said "You did" I meant you said you had gone through SERE. That seemed pretty clear to me, but obviously it was an awkward way of responding. I understand why you misinterpreted that as me saying you said I said I had.

    I did not know that "MOS" is apparently not used by the Navy (it's the Army and USMC acronym for military occupational specialty) I was curious why you went throughy SERE school. You answered in fine fashion, and thank you for serving. Viet Nam was an honorable war, and your service honorable. We should have won.

    I've never been in the military.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    senorlechero · 12 years ago
    You obviously don't get the "freedom of speech" idea, though I'm sure you are real glad you have it. It's like this....Somebody does, says, or writes something and places it in the public domain, and we all have the right to think and say what we want about it. I'm sure you exercised this right plenty the past 8 years, though I doubt you considered yourself a "crybaby" as you cavetched about Bush/Hitler and CheneyRumsfeldHaliburton the war criminals who stole two elections. Am I right?

    Folks like you, who are so full of hatred, are hard to understand...but then I'm glad I dont understand you. I'd rather understand the real world than the one you've created in you mind.

    "Rendition"? You mean the practice started by President Clinton of sending terrorists to nations that will treat them as they deserve? Oh yeah, there's a big problem.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JNT · 12 years ago
    I'm amazed - I will never regard Michael Yon the same way again.

    Mr. Yon, I've had a deep respect for you for years. It will probably not be restored going forward. I guess it's better to find this out, though, that my trust, regard, respect for you was misplaced.

    So many commenters below have described the wrongheadedness in this editorial that I need not add more.

    Sadly,
    JNT
  • This commment is unpublished.
    J.H. · 12 years ago
    You live in America but under a rock, when it comes to the world. There are a lot of smart people in the world and they donƒ??t share your views on torture. America has been hurt by what it has done and you can have the Bully Conan attitude like torture them all and let God sort it out! Go back under your rock hero.

    Itƒ??s very simple really by torturing we hurt our country ƒ??MOREƒ? in the long run and any short term gains that are made by torturingƒ??.. It is really that simple.

    We are isolating ourselves in the world by being labeled as a country that is or has tortured people. You canƒ??t get rid of this label by taking a showerƒ??.this is now who we are in the eyes of the world. Today in the world we have the big stick and if the world does not like it so what. Again we are hurting our country and ourselves by this bully attitude. The world see us as people who torture and they donƒ??t like us for it, in some cases it is the fuel for more violence again us.

    You always have to do the right thing even if you donƒ??t like it. People in the world now think we are criminals, have broken international laws. We done wrong for the right reasons but end the end it is still wrong no matter how much sugar you try and put on it!

    Our country is strong enough to crush the bad guys, and without doing torture where we become the bad guys.

    Having moral courage and the spine to stand straight when someone has wronged you without taking the low road and doing torture on them is something up until now America could be proud of. America has no problem with handing out punishment to the bay guys here. America just does not stand so tall in the world any more because of the torture and in the long run has hurt our country more because of it.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    senorlechero · 12 years ago
    JH. What sort of "open mind" declares, without doubt, what it believes is true, followed by "It is really that simple"? A very closed mind, that's what sort.

    "We are isolating ourselves in the world by being labeled........." Really? We're isolated? Is China isolated? China is a country that really tortures people, it's own people? Is Saudi Arabia isolated? They whack hands, feet, and heads off people. Is Venezuela isolated? Or Cuba? They both torture their own folks just for disagreeing. We're talking about real torture....years of isolation and starvation....broken bones....families thrown from homes.

    Open your mind and see reality. Provide evidence that waterboarding, or mild sleep deprivation, or limited exposure to cold...music....darkness/light, amounts to torture. And when you do, remember it's only your opinion.

    It's really that simple
  • This commment is unpublished.
    J.H. · 12 years ago
    A person or a country that has a moral back bone does not look at the other guy or other country and their conduct for an excuse to be like them.

    There are books on torture written by Americans that you will find on Amazon, you will also find these books on the bookshelves in many other countries. I have seen them myself and the books do sell.

    What we as a country do is of interest to the world, the world expects America to be better than the other countries.

    Perception is often reality for many people, no need to prove to anyone if water boarding is torture. The simple fact is we as a country did it and the perception of a lot of the world is Americanƒ??s torture people. It is a very good recruiting tool for the bad guys!

    America is hurt more by ƒ??water boardingƒ? AKA ƒ??tortureƒ? (for the rest of the world) in the long run than any short term information received from it.

    Stop making kindergarten excuses about what other countries do, we need to always have the moral high ground. Watch this issue with more pictures about to come out this issue will go on and on to hurt our country more and more.

    Again we did the wrong thing for the right reasonƒ??.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Doug Welty · 12 years ago
    Joe, waterboarding just ain't torture. No matter what you think you know about it.

    Regards,
    Doug Welty
    Lt., USN, formerly
    SERE school survivor, Warner Springs, Cal., Winter 1975
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cecil Trotter · 12 years ago
    http://engram-backtalk.blogspot.com/2009/04/its-not-torture-and-it-does-work.html
  • This commment is unpublished.
    J.H. · 12 years ago
    NO! Honey I did not sleep with that woman, I just kissed her. Yeah right!

    Itƒ??s really really really NOT torture, just as soon as you can get the rest of the world to believe that you might be on to something.
    Have all the books taken out of print about America being a people who use torture.
    Have all of the news coverage around the world about America being a country that tortures people stopped.
    Have Al Qaeda/Al Qaida stop using this issue as a recruiting tool.

    It is too late in the day to try and convince the rest of the world that we ƒ??reallyƒ? did not ƒ??tortureƒ? anyone. Yeah right!
    We done wrong for the right reason and the wrong we did is hurting America and it will go on hurting us for a long time.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cecil Trotter · 12 years ago
    Any facts JH? Any logic JH? Or just more of the same tired nonsensical rhetoric about how everything is all our fault, AQ would play nice if we weren't so evil?

    I'm guessing the latter is all you have.

    Because the facts of this matter are clear, undeniable, well known to those who care to know/accept them but also, at the same time, well covered up and obfuscated by the leftist, bash America, hate BusHitler / Darth Cheney media.

    .

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