Monday, December 12, 2005

"The Point": Double Plus Ungood



So it’s come to this: a poll on whether it’s acceptable to torture people.

Remember when engaging in torture was something that was seen as proof positive of inhumanity? But with the current administration’s “War on Terror” [sic], the folks that pledged to “restore dignity and honor to the White House” have eroded our collective character to the point where the relative merits and severity of various types of torture are an acceptable and unremarkable subject of our public talk.

Exhibit A:
Mark Hyman’s call for viewer feedback on when torture is justified and what constitutes torture. Hyman claims that the American people are “split down the middle” (an apt metaphor, given the topic) on the issue of torture.

Actually, the data mainly shows that attitudes on torture depend a lot on the way the question is worded and what the context is.

According to data available at
PollingReport.com, the overwhelming majority of Americans believe their government has tortured people (74%, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll). When asked if they would be willing to support the use of torture against suspected terrorists who may know details about an attack on the United States, the same poll showed that 38% would be willing to support torture, while 56% would not.

When asked by Newsweek whether torture can be often, sometimes, seldom, or never justified in questioning suspected terrorists, 44% answered that it could be often or sometimes justified, while 51% said seldom or never. (Interestingly, 25% of Republicans thought it could be “often justified,” compared with 11% of Democrats who gave this answer).

When the same poll asked whether respondents would support the use of torture if “it might lead to the prevention of a major terrorist attack,” 58% said yes, while 35% said no. However, when the question was whether or not respondents would support the use of torture if it meant it would be more likely that Americans would also be subject to torture, the numbers flip almost exactly (36% would still support it while 57% would not).

This suggests that any pronouncement about the will of the American people about torture is on shaky ground, since so much of the issue rests with subtleties of the way questions are asked.

And this is exactly what’s so frightening. Whether we’re “split down the middle” or if only a mere four out of ten of us support the use of torture, the fact that this has become a matter of opinion polling and viewer feedback segments is appalling. That a slight twist in wording can elicit a positive response to torture from the majority of Americans asked about it is a frightening glimpse into where four years of fear mongering, lying, and government-sanctioned abuse of human beings has brought us.

We’ve become a brutalizing nation. What a tragedy for a country that made renunciation of “cruel and unusual punishment” a founding principle.


There’s not much to say to those who support the use of torture from an ethical or moral standpoint. If you think torture is justifiable, such arguments are impotent.

The justification of torture seems based solely on a “the ends justify the means” basis. That such an ethos is alive and well in America shouldn’t surprise us; after all it’s been the hallmark of the Bush administration from before it took office. From the bussing in of thugs to harass election workers, to the outing of a CIA operative in order to discredit an administration critic, to the launching of a preemptive war of choice, to the grotesque political use of the events of September 11, the Bush administration has openly embraced and championed the rationale of ends justifying the means.

But even if one throws morality out the window and only looks at the issue pragmatically, there’s little to be said for torture. Aristotle noted more than 2500 years ago that, although one could “spin” statements made under torture as probably truthful (if they happened to help your case), the reality is that what you get from torture is likely whatever the victim thinks will get the pain to stop. This may or may not have anything to do with the truth. Hence, Aristotle’s belief that any information gained from torture was unreliable.

What does this have to do with the “war on terror”? Only everything. As we’ve recently found out, one of the main sources of the (dis)information used to support the case for invading Iraq came from
an al-Qaeda operative undergoing “enhanced interrogation techniques” (how’s that for a euphemism?). Yet, despite misgivings about the truth of the operative’s claims (misgivings the administration was aware of), the use of this testimony formed a central part of the Bush administration’s case for war. The information was simply what the prisoner thought his torturers wanted to hear, then the Bush administration spun this testimony because it was consistent with what they had already decided they wanted to do.

Yet, right wing voices continue to offer apologia for torturers. Both
NewsMax and Rush Limbaugh have lied about John McCain’s description of his own experiences with torture in order to suggest that torture works. McCain introduced legislation limiting interrogation techniques to Army Field Manual approved practices (legislation that passed 90-9 in the Senate) precisely because he understands that torture, in addition to being morally reprehensible, doesn’t provide reliable information. But the administration apologists at NewsMax, along with Limbaugh, have falsely claimed that McCain said torture worked.

Then we have Hyman. In his posing of the torture question, Hyman asks whether torture is only physical, or

do actions such as dunking a suspect's head in a bucket of ice water count as
torture? What about exploiting a suspect's fear of heights or abandonment,
claustrophobia or darkness? Is this torture?


Hyman’s phrasing (e.g., “dunking in ice water” to mean the practice of waterboarding; “exploiting fear” for inflicting psychological trauma) suggests where his heart lies.

But as readers of
George Orwell’s 1984 know, the most terrifying torture—the kind that utterly breaks a person—is that which is never actually administered, but only threatened. Fear, not pain, will compel someone to say anything. This is why we have such disgust for practices such as the Japanese Army’s technique of carrying out mock executions on U.S. prisoners. (By the way, the U.S. is also thought to have carried out mock executions in Iraq.) Psychological torture leaves more horrifying scars than any thumbscrew or bull whip.

In any discussion of Orwell’s novel, though, it would be almost ludicrous to ask whether or not O’Brien was “justified” in strapping a cage full of snarling rats to Winston’s face. Orwell didn’t present with Big Brother, O’Brien, and Room 101 to get us to debate whether or not they were on the whole positive or negative influences; he counted on these creations to scare the daylights out of us and keep us on guard against their encroachment in real life.

I sometimes tire of knee jerk analogies involving Orwell’s dystopia. It’s become almost a cliché to equate today’s America with the world of the novel. But, as I reread the scene in which Winston is terrorized into renouncing the woman he loves, I can’t help thinking that if we’ve been taken to the point where we actually entertain when it’s justifiable to torture another human being in the name of state security, Americans have collectively been taken to Room 101 and, through the use of fear, been made to recant that which we once held most dear.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

29 Comments:

At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Joe H said...

Thanks for another great counterpoint!

I honestly don't ever tire of the cliche` of America turning into (or *gulp*) already being compared to Orwell's dystopia. I think it was one of the best books I've ever read, and yes although an exaggeration of America, it is very comparable.

It is a very sad state of affairs we are in these days. But I think it has everything to do with the media being owned by multi-billion (trillion) dollar corporations who's only objective is the almight dollar. True journalism gets thrown out the window, and when that is gone, then so is the average person's ability to reason (who works 40 hours a week, and doesn't have time for issues that affect the country, but not them directly). I really do despise...maybe loathe the people who do not use the brain they were given from their parents. It makes me recall a quote, I can't remember from who, and I can't remember exactly how it goes...(I tried googling it, but to no avail)...it goes something like this "Better to be blind and unable to read, then to be able to read and choose not to." We can pretty much substitute brain for seeing. People are so easily influenced it really is scary, especially with all the paid propaganda, and no doubt subliminal messaging (and I'm sure other types of mind control [or attempts at it] that we are unaware of).

I think it's just a sad reality, people are gullable, and even corrupt, lying, manipulative leaders cannot be foiled by those who have a brain and choose to use it...the reason? Very simple, people who choose not to use their brain cannot be "prodded" by thinkers into using it. They have too many things to fall back on, whether it be their bias', their religion, their "leader", or if all else fails, they have Fox News, CNN, or any other major media outlet. It truely is a sad world we live in...and when I ponder to much I get angry and sad at the same time...not to get all emo on ya hear, but I really do get frustrated with humanity sometimes. And I don't want to be a recluse who drops out from society, I want to be more of a rebel who is involved...but in all honesty I don't see anything short of a revolution changing the corrupt and abusive ways of our goverment (both Dem and Repugs).

I'll save it for another rant, but the 2 party political system is the single greatest reason for decline in politics, and the ability to "rule the minds" of Americans. Very simple conclusion: Divide and conquer, it's been happening for millions of years no doubt.

 
At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ted,
Thanks for the thoughts.

You're right. This issue sure is a canary in the coal mine. The canary is wheezing, badly.

There are so many things wrong with the torture proponents (as if that very phrase isn't bad enough!).

Using the old "ticking time bomb" excuse is a classic. So if Mohammed Atta were captured in Boston on the morning of 11-09-2001, are we really supposed to believe that, after a quick trip down to a torture center that he'd reveal all that was to transpire? That "reasoning" is just pandering to stupidity.

Torture is simply evil. Period. If we as a people can no longer see that, then we are certainly NOT a Christian nation. Jesus was tortured and didn't recant his beliefs. John McCain was tortured and did not recant. The muslim terrorists that have been tortured have provided false information.

John McCain has been interviewed as saying that mock executions, such as waterboarding, is much worse torture than repeated beatings.

What is wrong with these right wing extremists? The views of such torture apologists as Defermentmeisters Cheney and Limbaugh fit in much better with those of the Nazi's than any Christians. People need to be clear on this. Mengele saw nothing wrong with torture. Limbaugh thinks its just some of the troops "having fun". Conservative bloggers have said that if we give up torture, we have lost the war. Pathetic.

And, incidentally, the Sojourners, a significant Christian group, have come up with their unequivocal statement against Cheney's pro-torture stance.

We should all be sickened by this.

At least real patriots like Hagel, McCain, and Graham -- all Republican Senators who have served in the military, have spoken forcefully against torture (as have 87 other senators).

This is a Joe McCarthy moment. Those who cannot speak against torture have no honored place in our country. This goes for Cheney as well as the 9 Republican Senators who couldn't see fit to vote with the 90 other Senators.

This is shameful. If there were ever a question of morality that cast a laser bright line, this is it.

 
At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Sickofspin said...

In his 1999 autobiography, "Faith of My Fathers," McCain describes how he was severely injured when his plane was shot down over Hanoi - and how his North Vietnamese interrogators used his injuries to extract information.

"Demands for military information were accompanied by threats to terminate my medical treatment if I did not cooperate," he wrote.

"I thought they were bluffing and refused to provide any information beyond my name, rank and serial number, and date of birth. They knocked me around a little to force my cooperation."
The punishment finally worked, McCain said. "Eventually, I gave them my ship's name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant."

Recalling how he gave up military information to his interrogators, McCain said: "I regret very much having done so.

Further, just after his release in May 1973, he detailed his experience as a P.O.W. in a lengthy account in U.S. News & World Report.

"I had learned what we all learned over there," McCain said. "Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine."

That McCain broke under torture doesn't make him any less of an American hero. But it does prove he's wrong to claim that harsh interrogation techniques simply don't work.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/11/29/100012.shtml

-------

The secretary said that information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies from a "very small number of extremely dangerous detainees," has helped prevent terrorist attacks and saved lives "in Europe as well as in the United States and other countries."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/feeds/ap/2005/12/05/ap2368850.html

So please define torture.... Is sleep deprivation ok if it thwarted an attack, resulting in saving 100, 500, or 1000 lives? Is water-boarding ok? Loud rock & roll music, is that torture?

 
At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Bradley said...

Mike--

Wow. Now you're going after John McCain? Classy.

You know what's really interesting? Where you choose to end your McCain quote. It's the same section that Newsmax published in its sleazy article too. But I wonder why you didn't include the passage in its entirety?

"Eventually, I gave them my ship's name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant. Pressed for more useful information, I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron. When asked to identify future targets, I simply recited the names of a number of North Vietnamese cities that had already been bombed." [Page 194*]

So why didn't you include the rest of the passage? Could it be because it shows McCain said the exact opposite of what you're trying to claim he said? How can you be so dishonest? We're talking about a war hero, Mike.

John McCain has consistently argued the same position Ted has argued in this most recent edition of The Counterpoint: Torture is an ineffective method for gathering intelligence, because the tortured person will make up anything in order to get the torture to stop. For you to suggest that he's changed his tune for crass political reasons is a horrible smear against a member of your own party.

 
At 11:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sick, I agree that you really have gone too far in trying to defend the undefendable.

You cite Condi Rice as a source of unimpeachable data? Sick, please join reality. Condi told us that "no one" ever thought about using commercial planes as weapons. Wrong. That the aluminum tubes were definitely for centrifuges. Wrong. Images about a mushroom cloud over the U.S. Not possible with Saddam's missles. So, no, Sick, I'll think twice about believing Condi. She's a spinner, Sick.

Waterboarding is mock execution. McCain said so less than a week ago during his interview on Fresh Air. Hyman calls it "dunking" in a bucket of water. Not quite. More justification of torture through the worst possible spinning. Sick, you proclaim yourself as "Sick of Spin", but you somehow cannot see truly EVIL spinning right before your eyes. Your fringe position has made it clear that any claim you might have on Christian beliefs is specious.

And the "ticking time bomb" scenario is so unrealistic. No committed terrorist would give up the game at the last minute. They were all willing to die for their mission. Give me a break. Torture would not work. But you know Sick, I feel ill just debating torture on those terms -- terms of effectiveness. It is morally repugnant.

You have preached about morals and liberal decline etc etc. Your support of torture makes all your carping irrelevant.

Sick, when you support torture, you call into question your basic humanity. Sorry, it's that simple. So if you were a Senator, you'd be one of the 9 shameful Republicans who couldn't see around this obvious moral problem?

Sick, you can say what you believe, of course, but you are further cutting yourself off from the civilized. It's likely that none of us on this blog are particularly surprised, but the fact that you'd so blithely join the idiots at NewsMax and Rush's gospel really seals it.

I am happy that my parents taught me the basics of Christianity and the rule of law. It has provided several layers of protection against the evil spinning of Hyman, Limbaugh, NewsMax, and yourself.

I am saddened and frightened to think that there are folks like you who are obviously intelligent enough to use a computer, but so morally vacant.

I fear also, because beliefs often lead to action.

As Ted said, we should all be frightened of the state of the current dialog on the "acceptability" of torture. Call me old-fashioned, but there is no negotiation. I'm proud to join John McCain and other Republicans on this.

Who's your hero?

 
At 10:59 AM, Anonymous hyman's turtle said...

wow! sos, you never learn. you ought to be ashamed of yourself for posting a misleading half-quote from newsmax, no less, one that smears a war hero like john mccain. you know, i pointed this out before when you posted an al gore quote that made it look like he supported the war in iraq, when in fact he was arguing against it. you call yourself sick of spin but that's exactly what you do, spin away, posting half-truths and misrepresentations. why dont you do us all a favor and stop posting on this site, until you learn that cutting and pasting from right-ring blogs is no way to make an argument.

 
At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Science fiction stories have long predicted a future society overwhelmed by large, typically corporate, forces that dehumanize people.

Like rats, we fall for the latest consumer "need", while becoming less and less responsible. Less responsible as parents, as teachers, as CEO's, as citizens. It is horrifying that there are those amongst us that will actually support torture. I suspect that "Sick" doesn't get it. That makes it that much more frightening.


Isn't it appalling that our President, after 9-11, asked citizens to go to the mall and shop? Isn't it appalling that he has never asked any but enlisted men and women to sacrifice? Not even lifting a finger to compel automotive fleet MPG averages to go up by 1 MPG. Or a modest (say $1/gal) tax to help pay for our oil war.

And where is our Fourth Estate? Looking at ratings, not anything that approaches civic responsibility. One thing that Sick is right about: our media system is crappy, but not for the reasons he sites. Gosh, the level of honest, heartfelt concern shown by most on this blog shows the possibility that citizens can care about their country.

Several writers have talked about a depressing future. I'd have to agree. Each of us needs to push for true leaders that have a heart and conviction. Each of us also needs to become individual "leaders". We can see what has happened to our mass culture... it has devolved down to the point of ineffectivness and stupor.

I think, Sick notwithstanding, that there is a growing mass of people who see a need for societal reform. I just wish we could get back to basic civic principles that the Founders called for (and yes, they called for a Civil society way more than a Theistic one).

I hope we get our act together.

 
At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a mystery why Sick posts here. He certainly does not write to persuade. He certainly is not interested in other's opinions.

It's a puzzle. It's obvious that he wants to make a point and needs an audience, but then he insults and injures those he addresses. Cuts off positive communication almost every time. There's a word for that: beligerancy.

Does Sick ever think about how awful this blog would be if everyone else practiced his methods? Does the thought ever occur to him that he contributes so little positive thoughts or insight? That he repels people who might otherwise engage him?

From my reading of this blog, there are people who contribute who are not ultra lefties. Or even lefties. Some show support of Republican politicians. And I've read criticisms of the democratic party and the paralysis of the two-party (tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum) system. If Sick ever tried, he might actually find some common ground and some sense of community and respect.

I feel bad for Sick that he seems unable to do that. It must be a tough way to go through life.

Just like the rest of us, he has needs. But why he takes out his needs on the rest of us is troubling. I really hope that he gets some positive attention and help through life.

Goodness knows, we all need some of that.

 
At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Washington Post:

According to an Iraqi official who U.S. authorities say had first-hand knowledge of the second Interior Ministry detention center, at least 12 detainees there suffered torture. Prisoners had their bones broken and their fingernails pulled out, were subjected to electric shocks and had burning cigarettes crushed into their necks and backs, said the Iraqi official. A 13th detainee there was starved to "bones and skin," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

The U.S. military said 13 of the inmates required immediate medical treatment and hospitalization. A first, unannounced visit to another Interior Ministry detention center in November found victims of abuse among 170 total detainees there, U.S. and Iraqi authorities said at the time.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari said at the time of the November raid on a secret Interior Ministry prison that only six or seven of roughly 170 inmates at that prison had been tortured.

On Tuesday, Khalilzad said the investigation reports he had seen stated that more than 100 of those inmates had been abused.

----------------------------------

And this is what Cheney, Hyman, Limbaugh et al. want our country to be like? I'm sure that the Shiites feel that they, too, need to torture to maintain security.

Or is it simply just evil men acting as beasts?

 
At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Sickofspin said...

Recalling how he gave up military information to his interrogators, McCain said: "I regret very much having done so.

Further, just after his release in May 1973, he detailed his experience as a P.O.W. in a lengthy account in U.S. News & World Report.

"I had learned what we all learned over there," McCain said. "Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine."

So the consensus from reading the liberal objections posted in this forum is: Because McCain broke but did not offer anything of any real intelligence value, then all those who 'break' must do the same thing, offer information, but information only of limited value.

There's a huge flaw in that consensus.....We're human. Not all will 'break' in the same manner, not all will be concerned with the level of intel they divulge.

Note: The definition of torture is subjective.

For the record, if water boarding, sleep deprivation, and playing loud rock & roll music results in saving some American lives, I'm for it. And for those of you who pretend that what we do in interrogations equates to the beheadings/torture of our folks and the hand of our enemies - or the torture our people have endured is some kind of 'revenge' for how their people may have been treated by us..... Quit kidding yourselves.

 
At 6:02 PM, Anonymous Bradley said...

Mike--

I can't believe you had the gall to do it again! You included the same edited, context-free quote to make it look like McCain was saying the opposite of what he was saying. Did you really think no one would notice, or do you honestly not get it yourself?

McCain's quote-- read in its entirety-- proves that torture DOES NOT work. He made up lies to get out of being tortured. That's the point-- people will lie when you torture them. Intelligence based on lies is-- everybody now!-- bad intelligence.

I'm trying to be polite with you. I really am. But the way you keep piling lie upon lie is really getting tiresome. America is a nation of good people, by and large, but they can be manipulated by liars like yourself. Your lies hurt people, and they're hurting this country.

 
At 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Mike Thayer (Sick of Spin),

To say that you are willing to abuse others for the presumed safety of Americans is truly sick.

That sort of rationale has been used by Nazi's, communists, and radical Islamicists.

Your statements are comptemptable.

According to your various posts on the internet, you say that you have 3 children and a wife. Mike, I fear for them. I hope that you do not transmit your lack of Christian (or simply civil) values to them.

I will pray for you.

 
At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Sickofspin said...

Anonymous,

Your tripe, intentionally designed to trigger emotional response is what is truly sick. Ill-conceived is what your response was. How liberal of you.

You seem to forget that there are terrorist extremists out there that want you dead. It doesn't matter if you're a liberal or a Conservative. If the waterboarding of a terrorist who wants to behead you is done and that results in saving American lives, so be it. You are truly naive to believe that a Utopian approach to global affairs is obtainable. Newsflash: We don't live in a perfect world. Your high ground approach results in more dead.

 
At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog thread is amazing. Our country's better off if it makes torture its policy?

Man, what a few Republican administrations will do to a country! Hells Bells! Let's not stop there, let's burn the Unbelievers at the stake!

Does this Sick of Spin guy have any proof of "more dead" by sticking to the high ground? How could he?

Wowza.

 
At 10:22 PM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Sick--

The whole undoing of your argument is in the premise you use: "if waterboarding, etc. results in the saving of American lives . . ." The whole point of my original post is that torturing does *not* result in the saving of lives. That's not some new, soft, feel-good, bleeding heart liberal position; as I pointed out, wiser minds than you or I said as much centuries ago. Your argument is based on a false dilemma: either torture or allow Americans to die.

In fact, torture (in addition to being morally reprehensible) likely puts more American lives at risk because it corroborates the most vicious of anti-American rhetoric coming from the terrorists. Abu Ghraib was the single best recruiting tool we could have handed to al-Qaida (well, actually unilaterally invading Iraq itself was the best, but of what's gone on since then, pictures of grinning American troops pointing at naked and dead Iraqi prisoners is the most damning thing we've done).

I choose to believe (perhaps naively) that those who condone torture such as you do so out of a misguided loyalty to the larger Bush agenda, not because you truly think torture is ethically acceptable or practically productive. My hope is that were such practices done under a Democratic administration, you would criticize them as vociferously as the rest of us have in this case (and yes, I would be every bit as horrifed by torture used by a Democrat).

That would not excuse your position, but it would at least provide an explanation that is slightly less blood chilling than the possibility that you actually believe torture is consistent with American principles (and basic human rights and decency).

tjr

 
At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Sickofspin said...

Ted,

You are both naive and Utopian minded.

You wrote: 'Your argument is based on a false dilemma: either torture or allow Americans to die.'

No spin man, that's NOT what my argument is based on. Americans will die - period, whether we 'negotiate', interrogate with 'manners', or waterboard. What YOU don't understand is that aggressive interrogation short of torture does in fact have a thwarting benefit. You people are guilty of a blanket definition for torture (for political argument convenience), when truly, the definition is subjective. That's why the debate goes on in Washington. And yes Ted, the interrogation techniques of today were used during democratic administrations (if not more severe practices), and I didn't speak out in some feigned bit of protest. Why not? Because sometimes in this world, like it or not, we have to slap somebody around to get intel. Your 'please Mr. Terrorist tell me what I need to know' mentality is a complete joke. Sometimes a cop has to shove the face of a suspect down into the ground to get the cuffs on. Sometimes a detective has to slam a Chicago phone book over the top of a scumbag's skull to get him to talk. Sometimes a doctor has to break a bone in order to get it set right for proper healing. Sometimes an interrogator has to go the route of sleep deprivation to get intel in the pursuit of thwarting a future attack against us. That's reality. What you and your ilk advocate in argument is Utopian minded fluff.

 
At 1:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sick's quotes here are really quite telling. They show that Sick has sucked up the right-wing talking points like a sponge. He lets their words become his truth without any real independent thought of his own. It shows how thoroughly he has been programmed to accept 'The Message'. Here are a few quotes and my responses:

Sick said, "Note: The definition of torture is subjective."

( No Sick, it has been very well defined by your Fascist leaders as anything short of organ failure or death.)

Sick said, "For the record, if water boarding, sleep deprivation, and playing loud rock & roll music results in saving some American lives, I'm for it. And for those of you who pretend that what we do in interrogations equates to the beheadings/torture of our folks and the hand of our enemies - or the torture our people have endured is some kind of 'revenge' for how their people may have been treated by us..... Quit kidding yourselves."

( Sick, you act as if water boarding, sleep deprivation, and playing loud rock & roll music is the worst that we have done to these people, when actually we beat some of them to death, raped and sodomized them, electrocuted them, allowed them to be threatened and attacked by animals, and a host of other sick things.)

Sick said, "You seem to forget that there are terrorist extremists out there that want you dead."

( The fear-mongering has really done it's work here. What they really want is us and our imperialism out of their country Sick.)

Sick said, "If the waterboarding of a terrorist who wants to behead you is done and that results in saving American lives, so be it."

( Sick, you assume all of these people are terrorists when the vast majority of the people we captured and tortured were innocent, guilty of nothing. Sick, you can be tortured and forced to confess to anything they want you to confess to, and if they don't tell you what to confess to, you WILL make something up for them.)

 
At 10:20 AM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Spin,

Since you're making an argument from definition, please define what *you* mean by the term "torture." Maybe we'll get at the bottom of this.

tjr

 
At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Sickofspin said...

You people are simply amazing with how you 'think' you have everything all figured out. Is that why your side is NOT in power?

 
At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Sick,

Thanks for the softball question...

Here's the answer: Your party's in power because of a stolen election.

Yeah, yeah, I can hear you saying, "get over it". But coming from a guy who revels in John Kerry's ancient past, I don't think I could take that suggestion seriously.

And, some people here in the good-old U.S. of A. might think that a presidential election is a pretty serious thing, and the the "stolen honor" of rigging it is also a pretty serious problem.

If our people's will had been done in 2000, ol' Nothing-But-A-Last-Name would still be driving Texas businesses into the ground, instead of intercoursing the whole country.

I hope John (ol softie-on-torture) McCain wins the 2008 presidency. I'd rather have a true war hero than a bunch of chickenhawk bullies running (ruining) things for their business cronies.

Isn't interesting how the chickenhawks are pro-torture and the great majority of true military heros and leaders are against it?

Sick, I can't think of one military hero who is pro-torture, but I can list several who are strongly anti-torture. You have reported yourself as a military veteran, so why are you so unlike your honorable comrades?

Simply put, the whole Bush Gang are a bunch of bullies. Yeah, they're tough alright... as long as someone else is taking the risks and doing the dirty work.

Yep...

Chickenhawk = pro-torture

War veterans = too mature too sign up to such a Faustian bargain.

Sick, why do you hang on to such a despicable group?

I'm no lover of the Democrats. I'd vote for a Republican. But I just can't see supporting the bunch of louses now in power.

Sorry.

 
At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Bradley said...

I don't know, Mike-- our side has prevented your people from destroying social security. We're forcing your side to come clean about issues like bad intelligence, torture, and violating election laws. We prevented the nomination of one horribly unqualified crony to the Supreme Court. We're going to insist on the continued investigations of the laws broken when your guys revealed the name of a CIA operative.

Also, just so everyone reading this is clear-- when Mike says "your side" to us, he's refering to people who insist on honesty and accountability from elected officials and media pundits. The conflict is not Democrat vs. Republican, or even liberal vs. conservative (as other annonymous posters and Ted have noted). The conflict is between those who value honesty, and those who can only promote their ideology by lying.

If you agree that any ideology that can only be supported through falsehoods and misinformation is a pretty lousy ideology, you're on our side regardless of which party you typically vote for.

 
At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Sickofspin said...

Bradley,

Today's democrats are anything BUT leaders who deal in honesty.

Today's liberals have no positive agenda, it's all about being negative, 'Bush does this wrong', or 'The GOP is mistaken...'

When are you folks going to properly convey a vision for this country?

Cut and run - is visionary? Hardly

Let's just raise taxes on Social Security shortly before it goes bankrupt, that will 'fix' it - is visionary? Hardly.

There is a reason you folks don't have the White House, there's a reason you're the minority party in both the House and Senate. There's a reason you hold a minority in governorships and minority status in state legislatures.

Your, 'the election was stolen in 2000' is nothing more than bitter nonsense. There's been an off-year election and another presidential election since then, yes indeed, get over it. Look in the mirror for the reasons why your party continues to lose. Party of honesty my butt....such delusional thinking cracks me up!

 
At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Bradley said...

Mike,

Again, I'm not talking about Democrats vs. Republicans. You can try to reframe the debate as much as you want, but the bottom line is, in exchanges on this blog, you have consistently lied, and I never have. You lack credibility, I don't.

 
At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Sickofspin said...

Bradley (oh holier than thou),

Your statement of me is simply false. You're another who needs to look in the mirror.

'I don't know, Mike-- our side has prevented your people from destroying social security. We're forcing your side to come clean about issues like bad intelligence, torture, and violating election laws. We prevented the nomination of one horribly unqualified crony to the Supreme Court. We're going to insist on the continued investigations of the laws broken when your guys revealed the name of a CIA operative.'

There's a whole mess of spin, manipulations in fact, and twisted reality. Destroying social security is a matter of opinion (and quite frankly that your side wants to do virtually nothing is destructive in itself). The bad intel was bad intel, there's no 'coming clean' about it, no politics about it except for the hay your side is trying to make. Your side tries to parlay interrogation to mean torture - you try to apply instances of abuse involving some to all. Violations of elections laws?.... all you have is speculation (and bitterness). 'YOU'(as in your side) prevented a Bush nomination to the Supreme Court? Funny, I thought you folks were laughing at how the GOP rejected one of their own, so which is it - prevented or let the GOP nix it on their own? CIA operative being outed? Show me where Valerie was actually outed. Your side always says she was, but not even an investigation into the matter has shown just how the 'outing' was occurred.

It seems to me that you are loose with the facts my friend, not me.

 
At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sick,

I have to second the above sentiments. You make a lot of accusations, ignore the points presented to you, and continue to spew, spew, spew.

For the EIGHTH time I'll ask: Where is your data backing up your claim that Ted Remington abused his academic position?

Its a simple question, Mike. Are you man enough to answer this query, or just a big bag of foul air?

So far, your silence after your smear speaks volumes. What do we have to do to get you to respond, dunk you in a pail of water?

 
At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fellow Citizens,

Hi!

There's a good report at Media Matters on conservative spin on torture. It covers the Wall Street Journals misquoting and mischaracterizations of other news reports, so as to put a happy face on waterboarding (i.e., mock executions).

You wonder what philosophy motivates this bunch.

Growing up, my dad knew a neighbor who would spank his kids every Saturday night, "whether they need it or not". There are some sick people out there.

Read about WSJ evil spinning at:

http://mediamatters.org/items/200512140010

 
At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Bradley said...

Mike,

There's no reasoning with a pathological liar like yourself. I've tried; you've ignored all of my points; I'm through with it. Believe it or not, I have no ill will towards you. I do think it's odd, though, that you've decided to devote your life to hanging around progressive message boards and blogs trying to insult those of us who read books and pay attention to the news, but I don't think anyone finds you particularly threatening-- or even insulting-- so I don't really feel the need to refute your nonsensical ramblings anymore. Most people seem to regard you as a silly little man who doesn't even realize how silly he is-- in fact, I don't think you even realize that when you present the conservative point-of-view, it makes true, intelligent conservatives everywhere look bad.

If I can offer you a piece of advice (offered in friendship, sincerely), please, find a better use of your time. There are serious problems in the world-- cutting and pasting misinformed opinion pieces from Newsmax or Little Green Footballs does nothing to alleviate them.

One more point, though, because as a Christian, I feel kind of insulted by your last response. Generally, a person described as "holier than thou" is a person who has tried to claim he is morally superior to another-- a sin of pride. I think that label fits you much better than it fits me, but I understand your point-- I called you a liar, and your position, I guess, is that everyone lies once in a while, and for me to claim that I'm not just as guilty of that as you are makes the label "holier than thou" appropriate. I guess I can see your point-- you may very well be my moral equal in the "real world," away from the blogosphere. Maybe you volunteer at a homeless shelter (but I'm pretty sure you hate those), maybe you're a loving and committed father, maybe you and your church build houses for Habitat for Humanity. Most importantly, maybe you keep all of your lies reserved for the World Wide Web, and are actually a very honest person in your other interactions.

I must admit, I have lied in the past. Not anytime recently, but yes, I've been guilty of the same sin I've identified in you. So believe me, Mike-- I don't think I'm your moral superior. That's not for me to judge.

However, none of this changes the fact that you've lied in just about every exchange you've ever had with me. I, on the other hand, have been completely honest. That doesn't mean I'm your superior in all things-- just in this online debate we've been having these past few weeks.

 
At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Thayer,

Looks like you just burned out another person.

Anyway, Mike, here's a letter to Senator Soft on Torture that I'm sure you'll enjoy:

The Honorable John S. McCain
United States Senate
Washington D.C. 20510

Dear Senator McCain:

We write to express our strong support for your amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill
reinforcing the ban on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by all US personnel around the world.

As retired professional intelligence experts and interrogators, we understand how vital accurate intelligence is to US efforts to combat terrorist violence by groups like Al Qaeda.

We have seen first-hand the central role that human intelligence gathering has played in countering the threats posed by these radical groups operating in the Middle East, South Asia, and other regions, as well as here at home.

We are proud to have served our country, and we remain deeply committed to supporting efforts to
confront the serious terrorist threats facing the nation.

In our view, the use of torture and other cruelty against those in US custody undermines this fight. Such tactics fail to produce reliable information, risk corrupting the institutions that employ them, and forfeit
the ideals that attract others to our nation’s cause.

In the public debate over your amendment, some have argued that CIA interrogators should be exempt
from the standards of decency and law that guide the actions of our military in battle and reflect our
national values. They argue that the US must retain “flexibility” to act outside accepted standards in dealing with hardened enemies, on the presumption that violent and abusive tactics are the best way to successfully interrogate these prisoners. We reject this view.

Carving out authority for the CIA to abuse prisoners in its custody does a disservice to those brave men and women who serve the agency, and increases the risks to their safety in an already dangerous environment.

In addition, it is wrong to assume that abusive treatment can be contained within a bureaucracy without corrupting the institution itself. Even where the intention is to limit abusive treatment to only a narrow category of prisoners or circumstances, other governments that have experimented with such “controlled abuse” have found that employment of violent tactics invariably spreads, becoming more the norm than the exception. There are already signs this is happening in our own interrogation practices, with devastating impact to our nation’s reputation.

Those who press for the “flexibility” to abuse prisoners have been willing to forsake both effectiveness
and our values as a nation on the misguided belief that abusive treatment will produce vital intelligence. But interrogation in the real world rarely resembles what we see on television or in the movies.

Serious efforts to extract intelligence from captured prisoners are not the stuff of television drama. This task
requires research, native language skills, and developing sustained relationships with the targets of
interrogation. Abusive tactics make developing these relationships more difficult; instead, they tend to induce a subject to tell an interrogator whatever he or she thinks the interrogator wants to hear. Once these barriers are built up, opportunities for obtaining reliable information from a target usually all but disappear, and vital information is permanently lost.

Thankfully, the choice between our values and success against the terrorist enemy is a false one. We
must not be seduced by the fiction that adherence to our ideals is what stands between our great nation and the security it deserves. As the President has often repeated, success in the struggle against terrorism
requires a firm moral purpose. In this, our values and our national security are aligned. We support your amendment to restore clarity and honor to US interrogation policy. Much depends on the success of your
effort.

Sincerely,

ROBERT BAER, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

VINCENT CANNISTRARO, former director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center

KATHLEEN CHRISTISON, former Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

WILLIAM CHRISTISON, former National Intelligence Officer and Director, Office of Regional & Political
Analysis, CIA

RICHARD CLARKE, former advisor, National Security Council

RAY CLOSE, former Chief of Station Officer, CIA

VICKI DIVOLL, former Assistant General Counsel, CIA

GRAHAM FULLER, former Vice-Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, CIA

MELVIN A. GOODMAN, former Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

PHILIP GIRALDI, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

MICHAEL GRIMALDI, former Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

RALPH M. HOCKLEY, Col. USA (ret), former intelligence officer

ARTHUR S. HULNICK, former intelligence officer, US Air Force, former CIA

LARRY C. JOHNSON, former Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

EDWARD R. M. KANE, former Chief of Station, CIA

CAMERON LA CLAIR, former Executive Officer of Area Division, CIA

W. PATRICK LANG, Col. USA (ret), Chief of DIA Middle East Division, Director Defense Humint
Services

LYNNE A. LARKIN, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

DAVID MACMICHAEL, former National Intelligence Council officer, CIA

TOM MAERTENS, former analyst, Intelligence and Research, Department of State

EUGENE A. MANNING, former Analyst, Office of National Estimates, Directorate of Intelligence, and
Counterintelligence Center, CIA

JAMES MARCINKOWSKI, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

JOHN E. MARSH, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

RICHARD MCDERMOTT, former Army Counterintelligence Special Agent

RAY MCGOVERN, former Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

DAVID RUPP, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

GARETH A. SHELLMAN, former intelligence analyst, U.S. Army Security Agency

JOHN P. SONTAG, former intelligence analyst, CIA and Department of State

LEWIS R. SORLEY, former Director, National Intelligence Emergency Support Office, CIA

ROBERT DAVID STEELE VIVAS, former clandestine officer, CIA

STANSFIELD TURNER, former Director of Central Intelligence

AMB. (RET) PHILIP C. WILCOX, JR., former Ambassador at Large for Counter Terrorism at Department
of State

AUSTIN YAMADA, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating
Terrorism

 
At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that even President Bush has renounced torture as American policy (after much, uh, arm-twisting), I'm wonder how our reactionary-right blogger feels about being abandoned by the Republican White House, the Republican Senate, and now, the Republican House of Representatives?

 

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